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Jonathon Hoffman

Other North Carolina Exonerations
On November 27, 1995, 35-year-old Danny Cook was found shot to death in his Marshville, North Carolina jewelry store.

After receiving an anonymous tip, police arrested 41-year-old Jonathon Hoffman in January 1996.

In November 1996, Hoffman went to trial in Union County Superior Court. There was no physical evidence linking him to the crime, but three witnesses testified against him, including a folk healer who claimed he had sold Hoffman a special root to keep him from getting arrested.

The star witness, however, was Hoffman’s cousin, Johnell Porter, who said that Hoffman had confessed to him that he committed the murder.  On November 13, 1996, Hoffman, who was black, was convicted of first-degree murder by an all-white jury, and sentenced to death.

On appeal, Hoffman's lawyers argued that the prosecution discriminated by race in selecting his jury, but his conviction was affirmed.
 
Hoffman’s lawyers then pursued claims of prosecutorial misconduct.  At a hearing in 2004, they presented newly discovered evidence that, in exchange for his testimony against Hoffman, Johnell Porter had received immunity from federal charges and thousands of dollars in cash – all of which was concealed from Hoffman’s defense. On April 30 of that year, a North Carolina trial court ordered a new trial.

In March 2006, while Hoffman was waiting for his retrial, Porter officially recanted his trial testimony, saying he made up the story because he wanted to get back at Hoffman for stealing money from him.

Twenty months later, the district attorney dismissed the charges and Hoffman was released on December 11, 2007. 
 
– Alexandra Gross

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Posting Date:  Before June 2012
State:North Carolina
County:Union
Most Serious Crime:Murder
Additional Convictions:Robbery
Reported Crime Date:1995
Convicted:1996
Exonerated:2007
Sentence:Death
Race:Black
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:41
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No