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5 months ago · by · 0 comments

Wrongfully Convicted Man Meets Longtime Pen Pal After Being Freed

In 1995, Lamar Johnson was wrongfully convicted of fatally shooting a man and received a life sentence. A couple of years later, a minister at Ginny Schrappen’s church handed her a letter. It was from Johnson and addressed to anyone who would write back. The two struck up a fast friendship and corresponded constantly for decades while Johnson was in prison, serving time for a murder he didn’t commit.

Johnson always claimed he did not commit the murder. After the Midwest Innocence Project got involved and the real killer confessed, Johnson was exonerated and released from prison at 49 years old. Twenty-eight years later his conviction was overturned. On February 14, 2023, Johnson was released from prison at 49 years old.

He spent the next few weeks doing all the things he couldn’t do in prison, including traveling to see one of his best friends for the very first time. Johnson went to Schrappen’s house for the first time, where she greeted him with a warm welcome. She gave him a tour, a box of his favorite cereal and one last letter.

Johnson said that the greatest gift, though, is the confidence his friend instilled in him and it’s inspired him to serve a life of friendship. Johnson said that Schrappen’s belief is what helped him get through nearly 30 years of injustice. “Especially when somebody is innocent, you want someone to believe in you. Because when you have people who believe in you and they won’t give up on you, then it makes it harder for you to give up on yourself” he said.


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