Local News

Vigil held in support of James Johnson

Posted February 7, 2009 7:49 p.m. EST
Updated February 8, 2009 6:21 a.m. EST

— A prayer vigil was held Saturday in support of James Johnson.

Johnson, 22, is charged with being an accessory after the fact to first-degree murder in the June 2004 slaying of Brittany Willis. The 17-year-old was carjacked, taken to a field near Brentwood Shopping Center, robbed, raped and shot to death.

Kenneth Meeks pleaded guilty last year to Willis' slaying and is serving a life sentence in prison without the possibility of parole.

Johnson was held in jail for more than three years on charges of murder, rape and kidnapping. Another special prosecutor assigned to review the case dismissed the charges last December and filed the accessory charge.

Jury selection in the case will begin on Monday.

James Johnson has long maintained he wasn't involved in killing Willis. According to police and court records, no physical evidence connects him to the rape or homicide.

He admitted to wiping his fingerprints off Willis’ sport utility vehicle but said he did it under duress because Meeks showed him a gun. He went to police about the crime three days later.

Johnson's supporters, which include the state chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, want the case dropped altogether, saying he should be hailed as a hero for turning in Meeks to police.