June 12, 2012 Source : http://www.commercialappeal.com
A former death row inmate who won a new trial in the 1983 murder of a Memphis grocer has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to time he already has served.
Erskine Leroy Johnson, 54, was released Friday morning after serving 26 years, 11 months and five days for the shooting death of Joe Belenchia during a holdup on Oct. 2, 1983, at the Food Rite Grocery at 2803 Lamar.
“He is overjoyed at being out,” said Gerald Skahan, chief capital-case attorney in the Public Defenders Office. “He is looking forward to enjoying the rest of his life and spending it helping others.”
He said Johnson has always maintained his innocence, but entered an Alford plea, also called a best-interests plea, so he could get out of prison and avoid putting his family through a trial.
He was released Friday morning from…
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