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Supreme Court Denies Appeal By Convict Featured In ‘Earwitness’ Podcast.


The U.S. Supreme Court’s new term began today (Oct. 2) and it began with a setback for a show featured in the Lava For Good and iHeartPodcasts series Earwitness. The Court said it will not review the case of Toforest Johnson, who has been on death row for more than 25 years for the murder of a deputy sheriff in Birmingham, AL. The issue in front of the court was the prosecutors’ undisclosed reward payment to the state’s key witness.


“This is an extraordinary case in which even the prosecutor who put Toforest Johnson on death row has called for a new trial,” said Beth Shelburne, the criminal justice investigative reporter and Alabama native who hosts the podcast. “That is unheard of. The elected District Attorney says it’s one of the worst cases he’s ever seen — yet Toforest remains on death row.”


Despite the Supreme Court ruling, Johnson’s legal team has further appeals pending in both state and federal court.


The Earwitness series began releasing episodes last month. The eight-episode series documents investigative journalist Shelburne’s multi-year investigation into Johnson’s case. In the podcast, Shelburne navigates a story of murky twists, ambiguity, and shocking admissions to surface elements of the investigation and the original crime with unprecedented access to key players — the lead detective, lead prosecutor, witnesses, jurors, and the ‘earwitness’ herself.

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