Brian Keith Terrell-Executed by the State of Georgia in 2015 however Probably Harmless : UnresolvedMysteries

Brian Keith Terrell-Executed by the State of Georgia in 2015 but Possibly Innocent : UnresolvedMysteries
April 6, 2020 0 Comments

Simply earlier than 1:00 a.m. on December 9, 2015, the state of Georgia executed Brian Terrell. It took a nurse almost an hour to discover a vein for the deadly injection IV and, because the execution drug was being administered, Brian mouthed the phrases: “Didn’t do it.” Brian’s legal professionals argued that no bodily proof linked Brian to the homicide and that his conviction and demise sentence have been the product of prosecutorial misconduct and false and deceptive testimony.

I. The Homicide of John Watson:

On Monday morning, June 22, 1992, the physique of John Watson was discovered outdoors his residence on Freeway 142 in Covington, Georgia. John had been shot 4 instances and had suffered blunt power trauma to his face and head. John was found by cops and neighbors who had been summoned to his residence by Brian’s mom, Barbara Terrell. Barbara had begun aiding John with meals and errands in 1989 and had lately grow to be engaged to marry him. Barbara had pushed to John’s home that morning after receiving a name informing her that he had not proven up for his morning dialysis appointment. Police seem to have rapidly centered their suspicion upon Brian due to his admitted involvement in forging checks towards John’s checking account. That earlier Saturday, June 20, John had reported Brian to the police after discovering ten checks solid for a complete of $8,700. Three of the checks (totaling $2,100) had been made out to John, whereas the opposite seven checks have been made out to Dexter Victor. Barbara recognized her son’s handwriting on the primary three checks made out in his identify. John had declined to press expenses, nevertheless, telling the police and Barbara that he wouldn’t search an arrest warrant on Brian so long as he acquired a considerable reimbursement by the next Monday, June 22. Barbara relayed John’s message to Brian, who took accountability for all the checks and promised to make reimbursement. The police speculated that Brian will need to have murdered John on June 22 to forestall him from urgent expenses for the forgeries, which might end result within the revocation of his parole.

II. Proof of attainable innocence:

Brian’s legal professionals frequently asserted he was harmless. They argued that no bodily proof related Brian to the killing and that prosecutors had used false and deceptive testimony to safe the conviction that drew the demise penalty. Moreover, the motive of Brian killing John to forestall him from urgent expenses “doesn’t stand up to scrutiny…it strains credulity to conclude that Brian would commit a homicide to forestall his prosecution for a criminal offense already identified to legislation enforcement.” Protection attorneys argued that one other particular person concerned within the forgeries may need a motive to homicide Mr. Watson figuring out that suspicion would choose Brian.

Bodily proof from the crime scene leaves substantial questions as to Brian’s guilt: footprints discovered close to the sufferer’s physique have been smaller than Brian’s toes, and not one of the 13 fingerprints discovered by investigators matched Brian’s fingerprints. Investigators recognized a palm print as matching Brian’s uncle, Tim Terrell, however he was by no means arrested or charged, regardless of the conclusion by the state’s professional witness that the print had been made inside 24 hours of the crime.

A. Jermaine Johnson

The important thing testimony towards Brian got here from his cousin, Jermaine Johnson, a witness whom protection investigators say later admitted to having lied to save lots of himself. Jermaine initially lied to police about his whereabouts on the day of the crime. Jermaine spent a yr in jail dealing with the specter of the demise penalty earlier than he made a take care of prosecutors to testify towards Brian in change for a five-year sentence for the theft cost. Jermaine instructed protection investigators that police and prosecutors had pressured him into giving false testimony towards Brian. Brian’s legal professionals argued that prosecutors additionally introduced deceptive testimony suggesting {that a} neighbor had seen Brian on the homicide scene, when actually she had instructed authorities that Brian was not the person she had seen. At Brian’s trial, the prosecutor emphasised the significance of Jermaine’s testimony, saying throughout his closing assertion, “For those who by no means heard something about Jermaine Johnson on this case, if he had by no means testified, would you might have sufficient data to decide on this case? You wouldn’t.”

In a sworn assertion submitted by Brian’s legal professionals, protection investigator Melanie Goodwill wrote that Jermaine instructed her and protection lawyer Gerald King that he was 18 and dealing with the demise penalty and was pressured by police and the prosecutor to testify towards Brian. Jermaine instructed Melanie and Gerald he wish to give a sworn assertion telling the reality however is afraid he is perhaps arrested and put in jail for perjury if he does.

B. Eyewitness Testimony

Protection attorneys argued that no eyewitness positioned Brian at or close to John’s home on the day of the homicide. Two witnesses, nevertheless, noticed Jermaine driving alongside the stretch of Freeway 142 the place John lived on the approximate time of his homicide. Virginia Kines, the co-owner of the Dixie Grocery comfort retailer on Freeway 142, recognized Jermaine from a photographic and in particular person lineup as the person she encountered driving an “older mannequin blue Cadillac . . . pretty gradual” alongside Freeway 142, previous the place John lived, on the morning of the crime. Virginia first discovered herself following Jermaine as she drove hurriedly again to the shop to alleviate her husband, who had jury obligation that morning. Virginia adopted the automobile into the driveway of the Dixie Grocery, the place it “pulled on by way of the parking zone and out the opposite exit and turned and went again towards Covington.” “At the very least ten minutes” later, Jermaine drove “again within the parking zone from the east aspect, coming from Covington . . . [and] pulled up and parked on the entrance aspect of the constructing.” Jermaine sat within the automobile a couple of minutes earlier than coming into the shop, the place Virginia thought he “acted a little bit nervous. He was type of antsy, you recognize, similar to he was killing time . . . . He was simply, you recognize, not likely appearing like a daily buyer and that made me take note of him extra.” Virginia described Jermaine as sporting a “ball uniform, simply beige coloration perhaps with skinny pin-stripe[s] . . . . Brief-sleeved, v-neck . . . no coloration.” She additionally famous that Jermaine had a “geometrical” haircut, and “a dusty type of dingy look,” like he had been strolling “on a dust highway” which in accordance with Brian’s protection attorneys was “a noteworthy statement, on condition that John’s physique was present in a patch of disturbed mud and dust.”

In keeping with the protection, prosecutors additionally misleadingly introduced the testimony of John’s neighbor, Marion Foschini, as having mentioned she noticed Brian on the scene when, actually, she mentioned Brian isn’t the one she noticed and prosecutors by no means requested her to determine him in courtroom. On the day of the crime, the state obtained a press release from Marion who lived in a duplex down and throughout the freeway from John. Marion reported listening to a gunshot whereas “doing [her] hair in her bed room.” A couple of minutes later, Marion appeared out of her entrance door and noticed a “lengthy, lengthy automobile” that she thought was “blue and white” in coloration parked in her landlord’s driveway, which was subsequent to her home, with its “hood up.” A “very tall and lean” black man with a “white T-shirt on and . . . denims” was “wanting in [at] the motor.” Marion was by no means proven a lineup that included both Brian or Jermaine. Marion later supplied an affidavit to protection attorneys stating “after I noticed Brian within the courtroom” firstly of his first trial, I knew he wasn’t the person I had seen in [my landlord’s] driveway…Brian appeared very totally different from the younger black man I noticed within the driveway. The person I noticed was a lot skinnier than Brian and appeared taller than him, too . . . . If I had been requested to determine him in courtroom, I’m positive I might have instructed them Brian wasn’t the person I noticed parked within the driveway that day.”

C. Tim Terrell

Throughout Brian’s first trial, the state’s fingerprint examiner testified that fingerprints recovered from the within of John’s truck on the day of the homicide have been made by Tim. Given the situation of the prints, furthermore, the professional opined that that they had been made very lately – throughout the final two days, at most. The State’s handwriting professional additional testified that a number of of the solid checks appeared to have Tim’s handwriting on them. When questioned by Brian’s counsel, Newton County Sheriff’s Division investigator Dell Reed famous that Tim had been evasive when questioned whether or not he had ever been in John’s truck. Brian’s attorneys additionally argued successfully that Tim fingerprints each demonstrated his involvement within the crime and broken the credibility of Jermaine, who had denied Tim’s involvement. The trial led to a hung jury. When the state’s specialists testified equally at Brian’s retrial in 1995, counsel introduced testimony from Spence Barber, the protection investigator, who attested that in his interview with Tim, Tim had grow to be violently defensive and denied figuring out that John had a truck, denied ever being within the truck, and denied that his prints have been within the truck. However throughout Brian’s third trial, Brian’s counsel inexplicably did not elicit any testimony concerning Tim’s fingerprints, his writing on the checks, and his potential culpability for the homicide into the protection case. Tim’s position in John’s homicide is a big unanswered question-a indisputable fact that was introduced up in Brian’s attraction.

D. Videotape proof:

The state additionally failed to show over vital videotaped proof that will have immediately refuted the state’s concept of Brian’s involvement in John’s homicide and supported Brian’s testimony associated to the forgeries and the homicide. Videotapes obtained by legislation enforcement officers previous to Brian’s first trial included footage depicting somebody aside from Brian cashing the checks solid on John’s checking account. This proof was critically essential given the state’s argument that Brian killed John as a result of he had found that Brian had solid checks on his checking account. Furthermore, the videotapes have been critically essential as a result of they might have corroborated Brian’s testimony on the third trial that he did actually forge and money three checks from John’s account totaling $2100 however that he believed Curtis Bernard Bagby was chargeable for forging and cashing the remainder of the checks stolen from John totaling $6600. Curtis admitted to cashing solid checks in the course of the state habeas proceedings. The existence of the videotapes solely got here to gentle in 2006, after inquiries into different issues by Brian’s habeas counsel revealed that Newton County Sheriff’s Deputy Wardell Reed had obtained — and saved in his private possession after his retirement — a separate field of proof in Brian’s case that included the videotapes. These exculpatory tapes have been by no means supplied to the protection over the course of three capital homicide trials, they usually have been by no means contained within the District Lawyer’s recordsdata previous to any of these trials. The withheld proof didn’t come to gentle till over 5 years after the conclusion of Brian’s third trial, throughout his state habeas proceedings, regardless of the protection’s specific Brady requests. The videotapes have been additional withheld even after preliminary requests by way of the Open Data Act. In the course of the third trial, when requested whether or not any tapes or images have been furnished by the financial institution pursuant to his investigation of the forgeries, Deputy Reed replied:

“There was tapes, however tapes have been recorded over, a number of the places have been drive-thrus that didn’t have video tools to do movies and the size of time from the instances the checks was cashed, there was an excellent chance that a number of the tapes had been taped over…. So we weren’t in a position to actually acquire something or any data from that.”

With out the state-suppressed videotapes exhibiting different people cashing the solid checks, the protection couldn’t adequately corroborate Brian’s testimony concerning Curtis, and the jury subsequently had no proof supporting his credibility. The jury additionally was denied vital data for assessing Brian’s guilt, since they have been unaware of proof demonstrating that others had solid or cashed the checks and subsequently had motive to kill John.


The State of Georgia ended up attempting Brian thrice. The primary trial led to a mistrial when jurors couldn’t agree on whether or not he was responsible. The second resulted in a conviction that was later overturned by the Georgia Supreme Courtroom as a result of an error in juror choice. The third trial concluded with a conviction and demise sentence. Prosecutors made separate plea gives for sentences of straight life and life with a contract to not search parole for 18 years. Brian subsequently would have been parole-eligible after seven years or eighteen years, respectively, however Brian refused to admit to a criminal offense that he says he didn’t commit.

Brian had been set for execution on March 10, 2015, however after Division of Corrections officers found stable chunks had shaped within the drug that was for use in one other execution in March in order that they briefly suspended all executions to permit time for an evaluation of the drug. The state has mentioned the more than likely trigger was that the drug was shipped and saved at a temperature that was too chilly. Precautions have been taken to forestall it taking place once more in accordance with the Division of Corrections. Nonetheless, Brian’s attorneys filed for clemency due to their issues in regards to the pharmacist who made the deadly injection drug. In keeping with courtroom filings, that pharmacist has a 50 % error price. The pharmacist — whose identification is secret underneath Georgia legislation — compounded the medication utilized in six earlier executions, together with the phenobarbital that turned cloudy in early March, forcing the state to postpone scheduled executions. Brian’s legal professionals argued in courtroom filings that on the very least the division ought to use one other pharmacist to make the drug. Brian was executed on December 9, 2015.


Is there any additional data on Tim Terrell? Was he ever investigated additional?

Has Jermaine Johnson continued to say Brian’s innocence? I needed to see if there was any additional data on him after he served his jail sentence.


My purpose in posting about Brian is to not advocate for or towards the demise penalty however to focus on the racial disparities and prosecutorial/police misconduct that happens within the utility of the demise penalty. The Nationwide Registry of Exonerations report on Race and Wrongful Convictions in america reveals that 87% of black death-row exonerees had been victims of official misconduct, as in comparison with 67% of white death-row exonerees. The report notes that “official misconduct is among the many most tough and time-consuming of proof to unearth, and so it’s not shocking that the newest exonerations—a lot of which have taken 20 years or extra—present ever starker proof of race results.” The NRE knowledge reveals that 20 of the final 21 wrongly condemned African People (95%) to have been exonerated have been victims of official misconduct, as in comparison with 8 of the final twelve white death-row exonerees (67%). Brian is featured within the Loss of life Penalty Heart’s listing of “Executed however Probably Harmless” people (linked beneath).

There isn’t any technique to inform how lots of the 1517 folks executed since 1976 can also have been harmless. Since 1973, 167 former death-row prisoners have been exonerated of all expenses and let out. Please take into account studying extra about or donating to Southern Heart for Human Rights (SCHR). SCHR has represented a whole lot of individuals dealing with the demise penalty, successful reversals and establishing precedents on appeals, acquiring life verdicts at trials, and standing by shoppers and their households and bearing witness at executions. SCHR additionally offers coaching and counsel to legal professionals representing folks dealing with the demise penalty all through the nation. SCHR’s employees publish articles on capital punishment, testify earlier than Congressional and legislative committees, and educate the general public and the media in regards to the demise penalty.

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