BALTIMORE (WBFF) - A Baltimore man is reunited with his family, exonerated of murder and set free after spending 30 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.
The road to Jerome Johnson’s freedom started with the determination of defense attorney Nancy Forster five years ago.
Now, Johnson is a free man.
Cameras were rolling when Johnson walked out of Courthouse East in downtown Baltimore Monday afternoon, where family and friends were waiting to greet him.
After many hugs, Johnson stepped to the microphones with his statement, which was simple and short.
“I would like to thank everybody that participated in the investigation. I also would like to thank [Baltimore City State's Attorney] Marilyn Mosby for bringing the integrity... to the State's Attorney's office,“ said Johnson.
Johnson had been convicted of participating in the 1988 deadly shooting of a man at a Baltimore liquor store.
“It was the neighborhood’s hangout spot,“ said Myron Boyd, who now works at a car dealership across the street from where the store once stood.
Boyd doesn’t recall the shooting but remembers the business. It was called the Night Owl, and was located at the corner of Woodland Avenue and Reisterstown Road. The building has since been demolished. A parking lot is there now.
“It had a few tables in the back, like your normal lounge, pool tables. Just a nice spot,“ said Boyd.
Johnson always maintained his innocence.
Finally, a review by the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office and the nonprofit Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project uncovered evidence to set him free, including an alibi witness and testimony that an eyewitness mistakenly identified Johnson.
“So, on behalf of the criminal justice system, I must tell you I apologize to you and your family for the pain that you’ve endured because of this wrongful conviction,“ said Mosby.
“Today represents the first time in 30 years that the criminal justice system has worked for Jerome Johnson,“ said Sean Armburst, with the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project.
Prosecutors said they interviewed dozens of witnesses and spent nine months investigating the old murder before asking a judge to exonerate Johnson.