Case Conclusion Date: 02.04.2013
Practice Area: Criminal defense
Outcome: Appeal Won before Georgia Supreme Court; Convinced District Attorney to Dismiss Murder Case w/o Trial
Description: In 2010, a 15 year old boy left his bus after school and arrived home to find his Grandmother -- who grew up pig-tying on her father's farm -- had hung herself in a seated position by wrapping a telephone around her neck and applying an expert knot so that she could not remove the cord once fully tightened. When the boy found his grandma, she felt cold as if she had done it much earlier in the day. Neighbors were called over and EMS. All agreed she was showing signs of rigor mortis minutes after being discovered by the boy, thus rendering it impossible the boy could have committed the crime as rigor does not set in for at least an hour after death in most instances. This boy had a supposed history of making outlandish threats, however, to his class and bus-mates. Being one of the only African Americans in rural, Dalton, GA, it was too easy for friends, teachers, and ultimately the authorities to single him out and blame him with killing his own grandmother. No one believed him but his family and his legal counsel, Keith Evra and David Wolfe. David and Keith developed a very detailed and nuanced argument over the next two years to assure that even if they lost at trial, the most the boy could face would be punishment in a juvenile court (confinement until age 21 years). Essentially, David and Keith argued that a juvenile, under the applicable statute, is detained more than 180 days without an indictment when on house arrest and ankle monitor. The trial court agreed and transferred to juvenile court. The State Prosecutor filed interlocutory appeal prior to trial and after successful argument by David and Keith in the Georgia Supreme Court, State v. Johnson, S12A2085, February 4, 2013, the appeal was dismissed. Afterward, Keith was able to convince the District Attorney that the knot applied and other forensic evidence (like her body temperature, rigor mortis, and bible passage purposely left open on her bed regarding "facing your fears and doing what is necessary") showed the juvenile was innocent. Trial never even happened as the case was dismissed 3 years later.