Facts not presented correctly

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Dear editor,

I read for the first time April 1 The Selma Times-Journal front-page article of March 31 entitled, “Former officer faces prison.” Not only is this title extremely misleading, but key portions of the remainder of the article reflect unsubstantiated propaganda from Troy King’s machine.

For instance, Troy King’s office stated that “Johnson was traveling at about 113 miles per hour at the time of the accident.” However, his office failed to tell you that the one and only eye witness presented by the state, namely Andrew Brunson of Orrville, stated that Jessie Johnson’s speed was only 75 mph. that same low speed was confirmed by Mr. Brunson’s wife, namely Annette Brunson, Jessie Johnson himself, and defense expert Larry Mann, who said Mr. Johnson was going no more than 70-80 mph. Mann, by far the most qualified expert at trial, discounted numerous criteria of the state’s experts, and obviously convinced the jury of Johnson’s much lower speed.

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This was a 95 percent victory for Jessie Johnson, who could have gotten a sentence from 25 years to life on the Class A felony of reckless murder, or could have gotten 1-to-10 years on the Class C felony of manslaughter. Judge McFerrin offered to sentence Jessie on the spot, after the jury’s verdict, and forego a pre-sentence report. We consider that a strong indication that Jessie Johnson will receive probation.

I strongly believe Mr. Johnson should never have been indicted at all. Indeed, he is due to be commended for trying to stop two violators, recklessly weaving in and out of traffic, at wantonly high speeds, endangering the public.

Both of the state’s witnesses, Andrew Brunson and his wife, confirmed that another car turned onto County Road 17, blocking the view of the deceased car driver had of officer Johnson’s car, thus causing the accident. Mr. Johnson also testified, and crash evidence confirmed, that there was no time to put his brakes on, before the accident occurred.

The pursuit of this case by Troy King was a continuation of his multi-faceted persecution of White Hall. Even worse, it was a threat to every law enforcement officer pursuing dangerous motorists when a casualty-producing accident occurs.

Julian McPhillips