In the early morning hours of July 9, 1992, a man crawled through a bathroom window of a home in Sunflower, Mississippi, and raped a woman in her bed at gunpoint.
Taken to a hospital where biological samples were collected, the woman told a doctor that she was not sure who attacked her, but that it might have been a man from the neighborhood that she knew as “Boo Rabbit,” the nickname of Arthur Johnson.
Later that day, when a police officer came to her home with Johnson, 33, in the back of his squad car, the victim identified Johnson as the rapist.
Johnson was charged with sexual assault and burglary.
Johnson went to trial in Sunflower County Circuit Court on October 1993. The victim identified him as her attacker. Johnson testified in his own behalf and denied the attack. Several witnesses testified that he was with them at their house at the time of the crime.
On October 15, 1993, Johnson was found guilty of burglary and rape. He was sentenced to 55 years in prison.
His conviction was affirmed by the Court of Appeals of Mississippi in June 1995.
In May 2005, after obtaining the assistance of the Innocence Project New Orleans, the physical evidence in the case was released for independent DNA testing. The initial tests were inclusive and after more testing was completed on November 30, 2007, Johnson was excluded as the source of the biological evidence.
On January 8, 2008, a motion for post-conviction relief was filed and on February 22, 2008, Johnson’s conviction was set aside. Johnson was released on February 25, 2008. The charges were dismissed on October 1, 2008.
In 2010, Johnson received $500,000 in compensation from the state of Mississippi.
– Maurice Possley