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Johnson case: Richard Walter, Richard Milam

Part 10 in a serialization of interviews published on the 26th anniversary of the brutal murder of Donna Johnson: Richard Walter: Richard Walter is a forensic psychologist, criminal profiler and member of The Vidocq Society. ’Since 2005, I have talked with the sheriff (Larry Waller) and former sheriff Buice, about going over the pieces in the Donna Johnson case. I think that in 2005, if they (the investigators and district attorney) did not understand the scenario, then it becomes ‘˜just information.’ But if what we produced then is reexamined and reassesed, along with pre-crime and post-crime behavior on the part of the (2005) suspect, then it upgrades into circumstantial evidence. More than 70 percent of all murder trials in the United States are based on circumstantial evidence, because murder is usually not a spectator sport. I realize some people are more cautious, would like more physical evidence, but you have to deal with what life or death gives you, and build a case on who had motive and opportunity, who benefitted, whose alibi becomes changeable. I think they should grab the facts and assemble them in a coherent manner ‘” where, what, why and how ‘” go forward and indict, and go to trial. I’ve never seen a perfect case; that’s why we rely on jurors to use their brains and connect the facts together. It’s indecent that this guy (the 2005 suspect) got away with this for so long. He should be suffering misery in prison.’ Richard Milam: Richard Milam is Towaliga Circuit district attorney. ’It was not a question (in 2005) of whether there was enough evidence, but of whether there was any evidence’ to qualify as probable cause for an arrest in the Donna Johnson murder case. The GBI has worked and is still working to solve the case. GBI agent Cayce Ingalls and Lamar County Sheriff’s Department investigator Todd Pippin have done some recent interviews, at my request, to document the files. GBI is the primary agency for accurate and continuous record-keeping. ’Many people have worked for many decades on this case. The GBI reviews unsolved cases on a regular basis, and there has always been somebody assigned to the Johnson case. ’The work done by Sheriff Joe Buice’s office, the GBI and the Vidocq Society in 2005 produced no new evidence, only a new theory. Buice believed we could indict someone, but nothing that was presented to me indicated probable cause. Some DNA testing at the time did not produce anything that could identify a person other than the victim. ’I disagree with the idea that law enforcement should have gone after a suspect despite the lack of evidence. If that is done deliberately, it is not only illegal but immoral, and could result in an acquittal at trial. Then you could have a killer who could go on TV and tell everybody how he did it, and there would not be a thing we could do about it, because of the rule of double jeopardy.’ If you have information on the Johnson case, call the Lamar County sheriff’s office at 770.358.5159, the Milledgeville office of the GBI at 1.478.445.4173 or The Herald-Gazette at 770.358.NEWS. All tips submitted to the newspaper will be kept confidential and routed to the proper authorities.

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