Civil Rights Group State There is “Too Much Doubt” to Move Forward With Terrell Execution

| December 1, 2015


ATLANTA РOn Wednesday, Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (GFADP) will join community members and concerned Georgians for a press conference at the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles.  They are calling on the Board to grant Brian Terrell clemency and highlight the issues of police and prosecutorial misconduct that permeate his case, according to the group in a release. Terrell is scheduled to be executed on Tuesday, December 8, at 7:00 pm.

Terrell was tried three times for the murder of John Watson, but he has always maintained his innocence. The group states there is no physical evidence or eyewitness testimony implicating Terrell in Watson’s murder, and the physical evidence that does exist does not implicate him.

They state, for example, that shoe impressions taken from the crime scene near Watson’s body are smaller than Terrell’s feet. None of the 13 latent prints collected and tested by the GBI matched Terrell’s fingerprints, but two taken from Watson’s truck matched those of Terrell’s uncle, according to the group. The GBI further identified a palm print on Watson’s truck as matching his uncle’s, and a state’s witness testified that it had been made within 24 hours of the crime.

They note the primary testimony against Terrell came from his co-defendant, Jermaine Johnson, who agreed to testify against Terrell in exchange for a guilty plea to robbery that included only a five-year sentence of imprisonment. Johnson initially lied to law enforcement officers about his whereabouts on the day of the crime, but after being held in jail for over a year while facing potential capital murder charges, agreed to testify against Terrell to avoid the death penalty. They claim it was Johnson, and not Brian Terrell, who was identified by witnesses who saw him near Watson’s house around the time of the murder.

Terrell’s first capital murder trial ended in a hung jury during the guilt/innocence phase, meaning that the jurors did not agree that he was guilty of any of the crimes. While that jury was deliberating, the state offered Brian a plea agreement to a term of straight life imprisonment (which would have meant he was parole-eligible after seven years). Terrell refused, not wanting plead guilty to a crime he did not commit, according to the release.

Prior to his third trial in 2001, Brian again refused a plea offer to a life sentence which at that time included a contract not to seek parole for 18 years.

“The Southern Center for Human Rights (SCHR) asked our office to review the case of death row inmate, Brian Terrell. We reviewed evidence, transcripts, and motions, interviewed Mr. Terrell, and met with his appellate attorneys. After the review of this case, as an attorney, activist, and resident of the State of Georgia, I am deeply concerned that Mr. Terrell may be executed by the State on December 8th without sufficient evidence to support the most severe penalty we have under the law. It has been repeatedly demonstrated that our criminal justice system is not devoid of error and we now know that 155 individuals have been released from death rows across the United States. It is our hope that we can lend our voice to this call for clemency and a new trial for Mr. Terrell,” stated Attorney Mawuli Davis of the Davis Bozeman Law Firm, a spokesman for the group.

Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty is the statewide coalition of concerned organizations and individuals working for greater fairness in Georgia’s criminal justice system and an end to capital punishment.

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