Local News

Second Man Claims Sole Responsibility for Wilson Slaying

Posted May 7, 2007

— A man charged with the June 2004 death of a Wilson teen will soon get his day in court after he has been in jail for nearly three years for the crime. However, a second suspect in the case recently wrote a letter, claiming sole responsibility for the teen's death.

James Johnson will be on trial July 23 for the slaying of 18-year-old Brittany Willis. Authorities said Johnson and Kenneth Meeks kidnapped Willis from a parking lot, then robbed, raped and shot her in a field on Westshire Drive near the Brentwood Shopping Center in Wilson.

Johnson has always proclaimed his innocence in the case, and now his parents are pleased that their son will get his day in court.

"As you will see, the evidence proves him innocent," said Arthur Johnson, James' father.

Meeks wrote a letter dated April 24 and sent it to the Wilson Daily Times, claiming that he "committed the crime alone and James Johnson is innocent." Meeks also said in the letter that he gave authorities the murder weapon.

Meeks pleaded guilty to killing Willis in April 2006 in a deal in which he would spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole. Since Meeks was 16 when the crime occurred, he could not get the death penalty.

In the letter, Meeks said that holding Johnson was "a crime in itself."

"They have the person who committed the crime. The person who committed the crime has over and over again confessed that initially he lied on James because he was upset that James turned him in," said Arthur Johnson.

Johnson's attorney declined to comment on the letter sent to the newspaper. Johnson's family said the letter is more proof about what they have known all along.

"Justice would be to let him go now. You already know he didn't do it," said Arthur Johnson.

The district attorney's office and Willis' family both said they would not comment on the case until the start of the trial. Johnson remains in jail on $1 million bond.


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  • wilson88 May 8, 2007

    no one ever said Wilson didnt have a racism problem, but in this murder case that wasnt the problem. Julian is also awaiting his trial along with James,Julian was only accessory to the fact, he disposed of the weapon and he will get jail time, jame and kenneth committed the acts of kidnapp,rape, and murder. If a black man had been accessory and his family put everything up for his bond he would be out too.

  • Pirattitude May 8, 2007

    He certainly looks like a rapist, you can see it in the eyes. And ears.

    Capt. Bob

  • Top Dog May 8, 2007

    4tlbs: you are so wrong !!!!!!!

  • MISS OH BABY May 8, 2007

    I feel so sorry for the ruined families. Im sorry for they're lost. Im so sick of hearing about racism its not funny. Im sorry if my next comment offends you but lets state some facts about Wilson. Wilson is still considered a racist area because they still host some KKK events (walks, rally's, etc). They are going to be harder on blacks just because of their beliefs.. you dont like it.. MOVE

  • bill0 May 8, 2007

    The 3rd suspect wasn't involved with attack. The only charges against him were lying to the police as he attempted to cover up for his friends. Obviously still criminal, but lying is a far cry from actually raping and murdering someone.

  • latanya512 May 8, 2007

    I am reading the comments and jimdart you are confused. Have you been watching MSNBC or courttv to much. Have you ever been around a gang, do you know any gang members personnally. What about the Aryan Brotherhood. Raping a white woman is not a initiation tactic. That is absurd. This is a crime. Period. Someone's child is gone and you want to blame it on race. What they did was done out of stupidity. Know your facts not what the media tells you. You can have believe them. Money talks. The white man was released because he had the money period. Money doesn't see white,black,yellow or any other color but green. If you can afford to pay, you have a better chance. There are more poor white men in prison as much as black or latino because they could not afford decent representation.

  • JustDontUnderstandPpl May 8, 2007

    Re: comments about Wilson being racist. Maybe it is, but you need to emphasize that it isn't JUST Wilson. Racism is everywhere. I don't know WHY race has to be brought in to every single story on WRAL; this crime is about RAPE and MURDER. Period.

  • Just thinking May 8, 2007

    Why did WRAL not report about the 3rd suspect or show his picture?

  • Just thinking May 8, 2007

    God bless the families that are involved. For those who think that Wilson does not have a racism problem, think again. The 3rd suspect (a white male) was bonded out and ordered to stay out of town. When was the last time you heard a black suspect being bonded and ordered to stay of town until a trial, which will take years to occur? Let's look at the facts.

  • kingtee76 May 8, 2007

    Bsmith--*shaking my head* at your statement. I grew up in the middle of murder, gangs, drugs, prostitution, etc.....Growing up in this enviroment inspired me to work harder to do something positive with my life. I was shot at, stabbed, in numerous fights because of where i lived, not because of what i was into. nevertheless, i went to school and did what i was supposed to do, so that i would not have to live like that the rest of my life. Yes, some of these kids do become a product of there enviroment, but not all of them. The sad part about these type of neighborhoods is that the child that probably could have made a difference in THAT particular neighborhood, often falls victim to some senseless violence that was meant for someone else.