Brittany Willis supporters rally for justice

January 12, 2008 9:48:30 AM PST
Emotions are running high in the town of Wilson. People on both side of the controversial Brittany Willis murder case held public rallies this weekend.

One rally is in support of James Johnson, the young man who spent three years in jail in connection with the crime. The other rally is support of the victim.

It was June 2004 when Willis, a beloved Wilson teenager was raped and murdered.

Year later, the case still has emotions running high.

"My purpose of being here is to express my disappointment over the charges being dropped," Willis supporter Emma Jean said.

Support for Johnson is being spearheaded by the N.C. chapter of the NAACP.

It seemed like and open and shut case when the man who killed Willis confessed to the crime. But he also implicated Johnson.

Later he told authorities he lied about Johnson's involvement.

But that lie didn't keep Johnson out of jail. He waited three years to stand trial on murder and kidnapping charges.

It's a disappointing turn of events for the crown that gathered Friday afternoon outside the Wilson County Courthouse.

Both sides are preparing for a courtroom showdown Monday when a grand jury will have to decide whether to hand up an indictment against Johnson for accessory to murder after the fact.

Johnson has maintained that he was not at the crime scene during the murder, but he has admitted to helping the killer wipe off fingerprints on Willis' car, saying he feared for his life.

No matter the reason -- it's on no comfort to Willis' supporters.

Supporter Emma Jean wants the case to go to trial so all of the evidence can come out. She wants a jury to decide Johnson's guilt or innocence.

Rally organizers are asking the public to contact elected officials and express their views about the case.

Johnson supporters are scheduled to rally 4 p.m. Sunday at a church in Wilson.


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