The California Supreme Court has overturned the death sentence of one of Los Angeles' most notorious gang leaders because of a technicality, according to MSNBC.
Cleamon "Big Evil" Johnson, who police say committed or ordered 20 murders during the 1980s and early 1990s, was convicted of ordering a hit on two men in 1997. He was sentenced to death.
But the Supreme Court voided the conviction Monday, saying the judge in the case improperly dismissed a juror who may have been planning to vote against a guilty verdict.
In a decision written by Associate Justice Carol A. Corrigan, the court said that jurors at the time feared that Juror No. 11, who was not named, had prejudged the case based on his opinion about one of the witnesses.
The witness, Carl Connor, had said that he saw the murder, but records showed that he was clocked in at work at the time.
"Connor explained that he and a coworker, 'Jose,' often clocked in for each other, so the records would indicate they were at work when in fact they were not," Corrigan wrote in her opinion.
Johnson, a former Boy Scout, became a leader of the 89 Family Bloods gang, prosecutors said at his trial. He was convicted of ordering the murders of two men as part of a rite of passage for a new member, MSNBC reports.
"They called him one of the most cold-blooded killers in the city, with more notches on his belt than Richard Ramirez, the Night Stalker serial killer," the site says.
We hope prosecutors get it right the next time. Even without the death penalty, justice will be served if someone like this is kept behind bars.