A man who spent 15 years in prison for shaking his baby to death was freed Saturday, one day after a judge set aside his conviction.
Zavion Johnson, 34, walked out of the Sacramento County jail, where he was being held while his court case was heard. He had been serving a sentence of 25 years to life at a state prison in Vacaville.
Johnson was convicted of second-degree murder in the 2001 death of his daughter, Nadia.
At trial, more than a dozen witnesses described him as a gentle and caring father.
Johnson testified that he accidentally dropped the 4-month-old in the bathtub while rinsing her off in the shower. She hit her head and later stopped breathing, he said.
Medical experts testified that the girl had a fractured skull and that her injuries were evidence of abuse.
Mr. Johnson may have gotten some sympathy had he been white, but that was not the case in racist Sacramento County where African-Americans are targeted every day by the police and county prosecutors.
Fortunately, two prosecution experts later repudiated some of their testimony and said that based on new scientific views, the evidence didn’t clearly rule out an accident.
On Friday, a state judge set aside Johnson’s conviction.