This is a happy and sad story all at the same time.

Ronnell Johnson Was Convicted Because His Dad Wanted A Plea Deal

Earlier this week, Ronnell Johnson walked out of the Washtenaw County Jail after spending the last 14 years incarcerated. In 2008 he was convicted of robbing a Ypsilanti Township car wash and was sentenced to up to 25 years in prison. Johnson, who has maintained his innocence the whole time, has had his case dismissed and is free.

Johnson was convicted — in large part — based on the testimony of his father, who received a plea agreement in an unrelated crime in exchange for his damaging testimony. But that fact was never disclosed to Johnson's defense team.

This withholding of evidence from the defense was determined to be a violation of Johnson’s constitutional rights and is what led to his release. Court records indicate that Johnson didn’t have a relationship with his father, who had left the family when Johnson was younger.

Video evidence also showed that Johnson was taller than the perpetrator, who is still at large.

Grant Durr via Unsplash
Grant Durr via Unsplash

To His Credit, Johnson Holds No Hard Feelings For His Dad

When Johnson, now 35 years old, was finally released, he celebrated by going to a Chinese restaurant with his mom, sister, and lawyers. Other exonerees showed up to the restaurant to congratulate him. He also got a chance to see his 16-year-old daughter, who grew up without her father.

Johnson is ready to move on with his life and says he doesn’t harbor any anger about what he’s been through after working it out over the years. “I don’t have one piece of angry bone in my body,” he told the Detroit Free Press. "I can tell you that from the bottom of my heart."

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