Coleman v. Johnson

PETITIONER: Brian Coleman, Superintendant, State Correctional Institution at Fayette et al.
RESPONDENT: Lorenzo Johnson
LOCATION: Approximate Location of Shooting

DOCKET NO.: 11-1053
DECIDED BY: Roberts Court (2010-2016)
LOWER COURT:

CITATION: 566 US (2012)
GRANTED: May 29, 2012
DECIDED: May 29, 2012

Facts of the case

In 1995, Corey Walker shot and killed Taraja Williams following an argument about a debt Williams owed. Lorenzo Johnson was present for this argument and heard Williams repeat several times that he was “going to kill that kid.” A witness saw Walker and Johnson walking into an alley with Williams in between them. Walker wore a long coat concealing a shotgun. Johnson waited at the front of the alley while Williams shot Walker. Johnson was tried as an accomplice to the murder. The jury convicted him after hearing the testimony of several witnesses, among other evidence. Johnson appealed his conviction, arguing that the prosecution did not present sufficient evidence to support his conviction. The Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed the conviction, and Johnson filed for a writ of habeas corpus in federal district court. The district court denied the writ, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reversed. The Third Circuit held that the evidence did not sufficiently prove Johnson’s intent to kill Williams.

Question

Did the jury have sufficient evidence to support the Johnson’s conviction for first-degree murder?