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New trial granted to Andrew Johnson, 24 years into life sentence

Laramie County District Court’s Judge Campbell granted Andrew Johnson a new trial today, based on fresh DNA evidence. Johnson has served 24 years of a life-in-prison sentence. He was convicted of sexual assault of a Cheyenne woman in 1989. The woman’s rape kit contained semen, but Innocence Center Managing Attorney, Elizabeth Fasse, says it wasn’t until 2008 that anything could be done with that evidence.

“The sexual assault occurred in 1989 and in 1989 DNA testing was not widely used by law enforcement. It wasn’t until 2008 that the Wyoming state legislature passed a post-conviction DNA testing statute. So before 2008 there really wasn’t a mechanism for prisoners with claims of innocence to get back into court, to have their old biological evidence tested for DNA,” says Fasse.     

The DNA test shows that the semen did not belong to Johnson. A date for the new trial has not yet been set, but Johnson could be released from prison on a $10,000 bond before the trial.

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