Tuesday, June 1, 2010

City Council Open MIC

On Tuesday, June 1st, the Justice for Terrell Campaign, the Human Rights Coalition-Fed Up! chapter, One Hood, community members and human rights defenders will gather outside the City County building in Pittsburgh in support of Terrell Johnson, a resident of Hazelwood who was framed and convicted on a murder charge in 1995. Terrell has successfully won a new trial, scheduled for August 2nd, after newly discovered evidence proved that the Commonwealth's star and only witness that implicated him in the homicide was lying through her teeth.

Supporters will gather at 9:00 a.m. with the press conference scheduled for 9:30 a.m. After the press conference, supporters will attend the City Council meeting and voice their support for Terrell and demand his immediate release during the public comment period of the meeting.

Terrell's wife andlead organizer of the Justice for Terrell Campaign, Saundra Cole, says he could be home by now. "The DA's office offered Terrell a deal last fall: cop to a lesser plea, accept a 7-15 year sentence, and walk out of prison today. He refused because he is innocent."

Terrell was sentenced to life in prison based on the perjured testimony of a corrupt witness, Evelyn McBryde, who was cutting deals with the cops in exchange for favorable treatment in her own cases, one of which involved the prostitution of her own children. The Innocence Institute of Point Park recently published on their website that McBryde called them just after midnight on April 1, stating, "I'm not going to be involved in (Johnson's) case."

Even if she were to testify, Terrell's counsel will call witnesses that prove that the testimony that led to his conviction in 1995 was false from start to finish. Dinah Brown will testify that Evelyn was not at her residence that night, as originally claimed, and has photographic evidence to disprove McBryde's description of her apartment. Another witness, Kenneth Robinson, will testify that he was with McBryde at the time of the shooting in another house in Hazelwood, making it impossible for her to have witnessed the shooting.

A new trial will also allow Terrell's counsel to call his two alibi witnesses, both of whom were inexplicably not called during the first trial due to the gross ineptitude of his lawyer. Two other men, Harold Cabbagestalk and Dorian Moorefield, were also charged in the shooting death of Verna Robinson. All three were tried separately. Cabbagestalk was convicted on the lesser charge of conspiracy and Moorefield was exonerated. Both were tried after Terrell and each had competent lawyers that were able to demolish McBryde's perjured testimony.

Verna Robinson was murdered on the evening of July 21, 1994, after Pittsburgh police officers dropped her off at her mother's home in Hazelwood instead of placing her in protective custody. Verna was supposed to be in the witness protection program because of her testimony regarding another shooting in the Hazelwood area.

"The DA's office is attempting to coerce Terrell into accepting a deal in order to cover up their criminal misconduct in illegally warehousing an innocent man in prison for 16 years for a crime they know he did not commit," adds Paradise Gray of One Hood.

"Every night the cops and Commonwealth attorneys who conspired to frame Terrell and continue to hold him despite the proven absence of evidence get to go home to their family," points out Saundra. "Terrell goes to sleep in a prison cell while his wife and children are forced to go another day without him at home. This is cruel beyond words and we will not rest till he is free and these authorities are held to account for their crimes."