Fri | Dec 2, 2022

Keith or Errol, cops nab their 'man' - Family fight to free man accused of being on the run for 30 years

Published:Sunday | May 27, 2012 | 12:00 AM

The family of a 59-year-old man, who has been in custody for the past four years, is crying for justice even as the matter is headed back to the courts.

According to the family members, Keith Anthony Johnson was taken into custody in 2008 by members of a police team who claimed that he was a fugitive who had been on the run for some 30 years.

They say the police claimed that Johnson was actually Errol Duncan, who escaped from prison in 1980 after being sentenced to a 17-year term on gun-related charges.

A second man, who was held by the police at the time, identified himself as Paul James, but the cops allege that he is actually Michael Lawrence, who had been convicted of murder in 1976.

According to the police, Lawrence was serving a life sentence when he escaped custody in 1980.

But Johnson's family members are adamant that the police have it wrong and that an innocent man is languishing in custody because the justice system is moving at a snail's pace.

"Him never spend time a jail yet. Him don't have a police record, and even if it was him who escape, how come the matter a drag through the court so?" questioned one family member.

"If a man escape and you catch him, it must easy for you to show the court him picture and him fingerprint," added the family member.

Court delays

According to the family members, the matter has been put off and delayed on several occasions and the judges have refused to grant the two men bail.

"Him spend one year and two months at Central (police lock-up), and from that time him deh a Horizon (Adult Remand Centre), and him leave him daughter who was three years old and now she a seven and can't see her father."

Attorney-at-law Jack Hines, who is representing the two men, told The Sunday Gleaner that the general problems in the justice system are causing the case to take so long.

Hines noted that the trial is slated to continue tomorrow, when it is expected that the State will call a fingerprint expert to testify.

Hines, who started representing the men last year, said the defence will be trying to prove that the fingerprints are not identical.

"They (the prosecutors) feel that it is a slam-dunk based on the fingerprint evidence which they will be trying to prove is identical, but fingerprint evidence depends on a number of factors."

For Johnson's family members, the trial cannot get under way fast enough, and they are confident that the State has made a big mistake and he will be back with them as soon as the court hears the facts.