Learn – Social Media

SOCIAL MEDIA

TWITTER

22 years ago today, @innocence client Calvin Johnson walked out of prison a free man (after serving 16 years of a life sentence), becoming the 1st man in GA to be freed by DNA testing. Happy Freedom Anniversary to you, Calvin! 22 and counting! #FreedomNeverGetsOld https://t.co/Ll8Ib0vwWv GaInnocence photo

Don’t miss out on the chance to make a lasting difference in the #wrongfulconviction landscape in #GA! Join our Friends of Freedom Sustainer Program before this Monday the 31st to have your first recurring gift DOUBLED by an anonymous GIP supporter: https://t.co/QdLdnfXM8n https://t.co/6SMr7P8Iad GaInnocence photo

We deeply mourn the passing of @southerncenter Public Policy Director Marissa McCall. And we celebrate her outstanding advocacy fighting for a just criminal legal system. https://t.co/58TfimBMLz

Have you heard? An anonymous friend of GIP has promised to match your first recurring gift when you join our Friends of Freedom Sustainer Program by May 31st! Together, we can #RighttheWrong in GA. Become a Friend of Freedom today: https://t.co/QdLdnfXM8n https://t.co/Rs7aUB0lVJ GaInnocence photo

Have your first recurring gift MATCHED when you join our Friends of Freedom Sustainer Program by May 31! Learn more about making a direct impact on GA's #criminallegal system month after month + give now: https://t.co/QdLdnfXM8n https://t.co/aQFNflPpRv GaInnocence photo

GIP is currently hiring two positions: Case Analyst and Communications Manager. Interested? Know someone who might be? Check out the positions on our website: https://t.co/nk8Xi8zkLE
FACEBOOK
Georgia Innocence Project
Georgia Innocence Project
"𝐃𝐍𝐀 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐞𝐱𝐨𝐧𝐞𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐨𝐟 𝐚 𝐦𝐚𝐧 𝐢𝐦𝐩𝐫𝐢𝐬𝐨𝐧𝐞𝐝 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐭𝐰𝐨 𝐝𝐞𝐜𝐚𝐝𝐞𝐬"

Armed with DNA evidence proving he wasn’t the man who left behind traces of himself while trying to tear off a Columbia County woman’s pants, Earnest Ray White is seeking a new trial on charges of kidnapping and attempted rape.

A Columbia County Superior Court jury convicted White in 1996 and he was sentenced to life in prison, a sentence he remains under. He was paroled recently after nearly 25 years in prison.

An “extraordinary motion for a new trial” was filed June 7 on behalf of White, now 60, based on new evidence – DNA test results that show the man's skin cells left behind in a July 5, 1994, attack on a woman in her home don't belong to White.

The Court of Appeals rejected White’s appeal in the late 1990s. The parole board turned him down six times over the following two decades. White sought help with the Georgia Innocence Project in 2005 but with no possibility for DNA testing, he was turned down.

By 2017 DNA testing technology had advanced so labs could test biological material left behind by touch. The Georgia Innocence Project sought that DNA testing. They had to take White’s case to an appellate court and they succeeded.

But even with the DNA evidence, exoneration isn’t a given.

The legal standard in Georgia to vacate a conviction on grounds of new evidence isn’t an easy task. White will have to convince a judge of two things:

• That the defense could not have gotten the evidence before now,
• That the evidence is material to the crime, which means it could have led the jury to reach a different verdict.

Georgia Innocence Project attorney Adam McClay contends in the motion for a new trial that the new DNA evidence combined with White’s strong alibi evidence, and what the defense believes was a tainted identification can prove that White is innocent of the crime.

At trial, White’s boss and coworkers testified White was working a 12-hour shift the day of the crime, and a tool White used on the job showed he was using that tool from 2:25 through 2:52 p.m. that afternoon. The attack occurred at 2:45 p.m.

The attack followed harassing phone calls the victim received over the prior two weeks. She sought help with the sheriff’s office and phone company but there was nothing they could do. The calls started not long after she joined a local gym with her boyfriend.

The caller knew what she wore at the gym, who she worked out with and when, that she had a boyfriend, and what kind of car she drove. He also learned where she worked. He used a phase, “I’ll be seeing you,” just like her attacker did on July 5, 1994.

It was a sudden, brutal attack from behind as she reentered her home after emptying a trash can. The assailant shoved her from behind, causing her to fall to the floor with him on her back. She told sheriff investigators, and later a jury, that she fought to keep him from flipping her onto her back into an indefensible position, and she fought to keep the man from tearing off her pants. She got loose and ran to the kitchen counter where there was a handgun. She fired and the man ran.

She told officers the attacker was 5’7’’ to 5’8’’, strong as if he worked out, and clean shaven with blondish hair cut in layers in a mid-length. He had pockmarks on his face and smelled of alcohol and cigarettes. She was sure he was the same man who was making the harassing phone calls.

White was 6 foot tall with dark hair and a prominent mustache. He didn’t have pockmarks on his face. He didn’t smoke and had given up alcohol. He couldn’t drive because of alcohol-related offenses. His boss drove him to and from work every day.

White was introduced to the victim by her boyfriend one morning at the gym where they worked out. By all accounts, it was a brief, and singular encounter. The morning of the attack, White saw the boyfriend at the gym and joked that he shouldn’t come back without his girlfriend.

The day after the attack, as the victim sat with a sketch artist at the sheriff’s department describing the assailant, her boyfriend thought he recognized who she was describing. He pressed her about a mustache.

That was the point when the investigation zeroed in on White. It also began a flawed identification process tainted by the boyfriend who led the victim into seeing the attacker with a mustache, the defense contends. The identification was further flawed by an unreliably suggestive photo and live lineups, White’s lawyers contend.

The investigators checked all phones White could have accessed in June-July 1994 looking for calls to the victim’s phone. They found none. According to the motion for a new trial, the victim was introduced to White after the calls had already started.

There is no indication from the sheriff’s investigative report that the detectives ever looked at anyone else at the gym as a possible suspect.

A hearing on the extraordinary motion for a new trial has not been set yet. Although White was freed from prison in March, he is under parole supervision and he is required to register as a sex offender and abide by all of the special conditions required. He is also prohibited from entering Columbia County where he grew up and where his family lives.

By Sandy Hodson, Augusta Chronicle

Published 6:02 a.m. ET Jun 14, 2021 | Updated 3:43 p.m. ET Jun. 14, 2021
Georgia Innocence Project
Georgia Innocence Project
Twenty-two years ago today, Innocence Project client Calvin C. Johnson Jr. walked out of prison a free man—after serving sixteen years of a life sentence—becoming the first man in Georgia to be freed by DNA testing. An advocate for those who have been wrongfully convicted of crimes they did not commit, Calvin has served on our board of directors at GIP and on the Innocence Project’s inaugural board of directors.

Happy Freedom Anniversary, Calvin! We are so glad that you’ve celebrated so many anniversaries, and we look forward to celebrating many more with you. #FreedomNeverGetsOld
Georgia Innocence Project
Georgia Innocence Project
Don’t miss out on the chance to make a lasting difference in the lives of Georgia’s wrongfully imprisoned! With your support, we can change Georgia’s criminal legal system for the better.

Join our Friends of Freedom Sustainer Program before this Monday, the 31st, to have your first recurring gift DOUBLED by a GIP supporter.
Give now: georgiainnocence.org/Friends_of_Freedom
Georgia Innocence Project
Georgia Innocence Project
We deeply mourn the passing of Southern Center for Human Rights Public Policy Director Marissa McCall. And we celebrate her outstanding advocacy fighting for a just criminal legal system.

The Rev. James Woodall, president of the Georgia NAACP, beautifully captures Marissa’s legacy in our state: “'From folks who are behind bars, to children to women to people of color, she was very intentional about who she showed up for and who she would work on behalf of,' Woodall said. 'Marissa provided Georgia with the kind of legal acumen and skill that literally defined an entire generation of criminal justice reform here.'"
Georgia Innocence Project
Georgia Innocence Project
It can take years–often a decade or more–to undo a wrongful conviction. And our work does not end with our clients’ freedom.

Your help is needed now more than ever to correct and prevent injustices like those suffered by Georgia’s wrongly convicted. By becoming a member of GIP’s Friends of Freedom Sustainer Program, you’re not only helping to free wrongly convicted people across Georgia, you’re helping them rebuild their lives after release, and helping to prevent wrongful convictions before they happen.

When you join by May 31 (that’s just 6 days away!), a generous GIP supporter will MATCH your first recurring gift! Join the Friends of Freedom community now: georgiainnocence.org/Friends_of_Freedom
Georgia Innocence Project
Georgia Innocence Project
GIP is currently hiring two positions: Case Analyst and Communications Manager. Interested? Know someone who might be? Check out the positions on our website: https://www.georgiainnocenceproject.org/about/hiring/