Local News

Wilson Murder Suspect's Parents Proclaim His Innocence

Posted July 6, 2004

— According to the parents of a teenager charged with killing a Wilson girl, he did not do it.

The parents of James Johnson spoke out in their son's defense Monday. They said he is being punished for doing the right thing.

Johnson was a star soccer player at Fike High School in Wilson. Now, the recent graduate -- who was looking forward to going to college -- is jail on charges that he murdered 18-year old Brittany Willis.

Police said Johnson and 16-year old Kenneth Meeks abducted Willis in a parking lot, took her to a field, then raped and shot her.

"I just could not believe what I was hearing," Johnson's mother, Beverly, said. "I felt surely there must have been a mistake."

Johnson's parents said they were stunned when police came to the house to arrest him. Hours earlier, Johnson and his friend, defendent Julian Deans, told Johnson's parents they knew who committed the crime.

"He said: 'I know who did it. I can't hold this in. I have to tell someone,'" said Arthur Johnson, James' father. "We were like: 'O.K., then we'll take you downtown and tell the right people.'"

Johnson and Meeks are charged with first-degree kidnapping, rape and murder. Deans is charged with making up a false alibi.

The Johnsons said they were trying to do the right thing by having their son talk to authorities.

Arthur Johnson said the family stands behind James. They are confident he will be exonerated and that the truth will set him free.

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