Johnson indicted as accessory after the fact

January 14, 2008 5:00:18 PM PST
The grand jury Monday indicted James Johnson as accessory after the fact for the murder of Brittney Willis

Johnson was formerly charged in the 2004 murder of Brittany Willis. Many were hoping those charges would have been dropped as well.

Earlier this month hundreds of people packed the Wilson County Courthouse in support of the Willis family. They waited to hear what would happen to James Johnson.

Johnson's lawyers waived a probable cause hearing, so his case was heard in front of the grand jury Monday.

"There should be a trial by jury and let the jury decide whether he's innocent or not," Cecilia Irvy said.

The crowd shouted and booed Reverend William Barber as he talked about the hearing. "I should remind you that it was James that came forward without regard, without fear of the risk for himself and turned the real murderer into authorities," he said in front of the crowd. "And for doing this right thing he has already been wrongly rewarded 3 and a half years of incarceration for a crime he didn't commit."

This past weekend a rally in support of James Johnson was held by the state chapter of the NAACP. Johnson spent three years in prison charged with murder in the death of Brittany Willis. In December 2007, a special prosecutor in the case determined there wasn't enough evidence to take the case to trial.

Johnson has always proclaimed his innocence, saying a former friend named Kevin Meeks committed the murder and bragged about it. But Johnson said when he told authorities about Meeks, Meeks named Johnson as the murderer. Meeks later recanted his statement and admitted he killed Willis. Johnson told police he went to the crime scene with Meeks and to a car wash to clean Meeks' vehicle.

Now the grand jury has indicted Johnson with accessory after the fact saying Johnson helped Kenneth Meeks cover up the crime.

Kenneth Meeks was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for Willis' death.

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