Felated posts are in the federal death penalty category index.
Almost 16 years after being sentenced to death following his conviction in a federal criminal case, Darryl Johnson was resentenced on Tuesday to life imprisonment.
U.S. District Court Judge Ruben Castillo remarked that the record of Johnson’s behavior over the past 16 years of incarceration shows that he is a changed man since his conviction and suggested the mandatory life sentence he was required to impose might well be too severe in light of Mr. Johnson’s demonstrated post-offense rehabilitation.
In 1997, Johnson was convicted of having been part of a large drug distribution conspiracy and having directed the murder of two gang members who he believed were cooperating with the government’s investigation of the Gangster Disciples street gang. Even though he was not the shooter, Johnson was sentenced to death for his involvement in those murders.
In December 2010, U.S. District Court Judge William Hibbler ruled that testimony at Johnson’s 1997 sentencing hearing from Bureau of Prisons Warden John Vanyur about Johnson’s supposed “future dangerousness” was false and misleading. Judge Hibbler concluded that had Warden Vanyur’s inaccurate testimony been corrected at the trial, Johnson would likely not have received the death penalty. Judge Hibbler vacated the death sentences and ordered a new sentencing for Johnson.
In fact, Johnson has been a model prisoner for the past 16 years. In an affidavit submitted by the government in response to a request by Judge Hibbler, a Bureau of Prisons Death Row Case Manager said that during his years in prison, Johnson has proven to be a well-adjusted, quiet and civil individual who has not caused problems for the prison staff. He has also maintained a close and loving relationship with his family throughout.
Terry Campbell, a partner at Cotsirilos, Tighe, Streicker, Poulos & Campbell who has represented Darryl Johnson since 1998, said, “In light of his record of conduct over the past 16 years, the government made the proper decision to not seek to re-impose the death penalty against Darryl Johnson, and I commend them for that decision. Darryl’s case is a lesson in how dangerous and unwise it is to allow juries to make irreversible, life-and-death decisions based on highly speculative guesswork – and in this case, entirely inaccurate guesswork – about what someone might do in the future.”