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Second Man Claims Sole Responsibility for Wilson Slaying

After three years in jail, a man accused in the rape and murder of a Wilson teen will soon have his day in court. However, a second man already convicted of the slaying said he acted alone.

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WILSON, N.C. — 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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