SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – DNA helped convict Terry Johnson for a 1993 murder.
But now his attorney is questioning those findings in an effort to throw out the conviction or get a new trial.
“I have maintained my innocence for many years,” Johnson recently told a hearing officer with the Board of Pardons. “I would never have harmed anyone and certainly not in this fashion.”
In 2004, a Salt Lake jury found Terry Johnson guilty of murdering Christopher Mosier. The 14-year-old was brutally stabbed at his mother’s Taylorsville apartment in 1993.
Mosier was substituting as a babysitter for Johnson’s son when he was killed. His mother was called in to work that night.
Johnson picked up the baby that night and was the last one to see Mosier alive.
He was a suspect from the outset but there was no solid evidence to link him to the crime.
Mosier’s murder turned into a cold case.
“He walked free for nine years after he killed my son,” said Christopher’s father, Scott Mosier. “If it were not for the detective pursuing this cold case, he would still be a free man today.”
In 2002, DNA came into play. The detective had the baby’s blanket retested. According to police, Johnson wrapped the baby with it the night of the murder.
But there were a few drops of blood on it and the DNA test indicated it was Mosier’s.
“It showed baby was in the room when it happened because it was splattered,” said Mosier.
The DNA evidence helped convict Johnson who received up to life in prison.
After 17 years in prison, Johnson is now eligible for parole. Tuesday, he appeared before a hearing officer with the Board of Pardons. He still refused to admit to the murder.
“I am never ever going to confess to something that I didn’t do,” he said. “This is awful and we certainly know whoever had done this is probably in public watching this thing right now as we speak.”
Repeated efforts to overturn the conviction were denied by the Utah Supreme Court.
But in 2019, the Rocky Mountain Innocence Center filed a “post-conviction relief” petition to see if Johnson was indeed the killer.
They challenged the blood on the baby blanket and requested DNA testing on other evidence detectives gathered.
Months later, the new DNA test shows the “DNA testing was not favorable to … Johnson”
Traces of Johnson’s blood were found on Mosier’s wristwatch.
“More and more DNA-strong evidence against him,” Mosier’s father said.
The innocence center “withdrew” from the case. Yet Johnson refused to accept the finding.
“I am not going to sit here and lie to you and confess to something that I did not do,” Johnson said at his hearing.
Now a different attorney is challenging those findings.
In a court filing, Johnson’s new attorney claimed:
-The baby blanket which helped convict him … “was not at the crime scene.”
-The DNA on the wristwatch was “contaminated” because it was improperly stored.
-He claimed the conviction should be “reversed” or a “new trial” ordered because it’s been a “travesty of justice” for Johnson.
Mosier’s father is aware of this latest court filing.
“There’s no way he’s not guilty,” said Mosier. “The jury came back with the right verdict. I don’t think he has a conscience. He just wants to get out.”
After listening to Mosier’s testimony during the parole hearing, Johnson offered a response.
“I am sorry for your hurt Mr. Mosier,” Johnson said. “I am sorry for your family’s pain. I do have remorse. I am not an animal. I am not a monster.”
As for a possible motive, after they were divorced, Johnson’s wife told detectives that he may have been trying “to steal stuff” from the Mosiers to fuel his drug habit.
Scott Mosier’s father believes his son “died” trying to stop him.
To date, there’s no word whether Johnson will get a new trial or paroled.