Thanks for checking in for another edition of On The Block Radio, the show that takes a critical look at the criminal justice system. On today’s show:
PA Prison Report Headlines.
-Action Alert for racial death threats at SCI Forest
-SCI Huntingdon represses protests against the starvation of prisoners
-End of “freezing cells” hunger strike at SCI Albion
A new trial has been set for Pittsburgh resident Terrell Johnson during which new evidence will be presented that supports his claim that he is innocent of the murder of government witness Verna Robinson in 1994. The trial was originally scheduled for February 28th; however, a recent decision was made to postpone it until April 2011.
Based largely on the testimony of Evelyn “Dolly” McBryde, Johnson was convicted of Robinson”s murder. However, the use of McBryde’s testimony during the trial has raised questions about whether Johnson received a fair trial. One of the reasons being that McBryde waited two weeks after the murder of Robinson–after she had been charged with theft and faced up to 50 years in jail–to tell police that she had been a witness to the murder of Robinson, according to the Innocence institute of Point Park University. As well, her trustworthiness as a prosecution witness has been called into question because of her long line of run-ins with the police for her alleged involvement in drug use, theft, and prostitution of herself and her children.
In August of 2009, based on the statements made by Anthony Robinson, who said that McBryde was smoking crack with him at the time that she had originally said she had witnessed the Verna Robinson murder, Johnson was granted a new trial.
In September of 2009, Terrell Johnson was offered his freedom in exchange for pleading guilty to a lesser charge. He refused, choosing to risk continued incarceration for a chance to be completely exonerated of all current charges against him in relation to the Verna Robinson killing.
His new trial will take place on this coming Monday, February 28th, at the Allegheny County Courthouse in Pittsburgh.
Terrell Johnson’s wife, Saundra Cole, was interviewed earlier this month for On the Block Radio. She provides important background information and explains recent developments in the case.
For more information on this case, listeners can link to the Justice for Terrell Campaign at www.justiceforterrell.blogspot.com.
The PA Prison Reports are compiled by Andy, Bret, and Amanda of the Human Rights Coalition based on the accounts of prisoner correspondents and the investigations of HRC members. From the compiled data, the reports are re-written by Andy into the narratives you hear on “On The Block Radio.” Tonight’s report was read by Hannah of the HRC. Many thanks. To access written transcripts of the PA Prison Reports, please go to: www.hrcoalition.org.