Some Birmingham faith leaders put up sign to bring attention to death row case

The 21x6 foot sign was the inspiration of Scott Douglas, Executive Director of Greater...
The 21x6 foot sign was the inspiration of Scott Douglas, Executive Director of Greater Birmingham Ministries(Greater Birmingham Ministries)
Published: Jul. 6, 2022 at 1:35 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - An Alabama death row case could get worldwide attention during The World Games 2022 in Birmingham.

Some faith leaders in Birmingham installed a big sign across from Protective Stadium that states “IT IS NOT TOO LATE TO FIX THIS MISTAKE.” The sign references the case of Toforest Johnson.

The 21x6 foot sign was the inspiration of Scott Douglas, Executive Director of Greater Birmingham Ministries, which has also created a website, www.toforestjohnson.com, to highlight the voices from across Alabama that have called for a new trial in the high-profile case.

Toforest Johnson (SOURCE: Shanaye Poole)
Toforest Johnson (SOURCE: Shanaye Poole)((SOURCE: Shanaye Poole))

Johnson has always maintained that he is innocent of the 1995 murder of William G. Hardy, a Jefferson County Sheriff’s Deputy.

From a May 8, 2022 WBRC article updating Johnson’s case: The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals has ruled against Toforest Johnson on a claim of prosecutorial misconduct, affirming a capital murder conviction questioned by an extraordinary array of leaders from Alabama’s legal community. The court emphasized repeatedly in its ruling released May 6 that the only issue it considered was a narrow one related to the $5000 reward payment the state paid its key witness in the 1998 trial. The reward payment was not disclosed to the defense until 2019.

The case is now one step closer to returning to Jefferson County Circuit Court, where District Attorney Danny Carr has requested a new trial for Johnson. Carr’s unusual request was based on a number of concerns about Johnson’s conviction, including that the trial prosecutors presented five different theories in five different court proceedings about who committed the crime. Carr spent almost nine months studying the case files, interviewing witnesses, and consulting with the family of Deputy Hardy.

Carr’s request for a new trial is joined not only by the lead prosecutor who convicted Johnson, but also former Republican Chief Justice Drayton Nabers, Jr., former Alabama Attorney General Bill Baxley, and many others.

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