From the Palm Beach Post:
The Florida Supreme Court today threw out the death sentence of convicted cop killer Paul Beasley Johnson because “the record here is so rife with evidence of previously undisclosed prosecutorial misconduct that we have no choice but to grant relief.”
In October, Gov. Charlie Crist ordered Johnson to be put to death by lethal injection in November.
The high court stayed the execution and heard oral arguments on the case in which Johnson was convicted of going on a drug-induced killing spree in Polk County in 1981. Johnson was convicted of murdering three men, including a Polk County Sheriff’s deputy.
In its ruling today, the court found that prosecutors intentionally got a jailhouse informer to get information from Johnson, take notes and give the notes to investigators. Prosecutors then lied about their role in soliciting the information at Johnson’s trial in 1981.
At a later trial in 1988, a different prosecutor used the same testimony that helped persuade the jury to hand down a 7-5 vote in favor of the death penalty, the court ruled today.