Exonerated ex-con empathizes with Glenn Ford

SABINE PARISH, LA (KSLA) - Rickie Johnson knows the challenges and changes that Glenn Ford faces now that he has been released from death row for a murder prosecutors now say he didn't commit.

Ford spent nearly 30 years on death row following his conviction in 1985 for the murder of Shreveport jeweler Isadore Rozeman. On Tuesday, a Caddo Parish District Judge signed an order vacating that conviction, on the request of the Caddo Parish District Attorney.

DA Charles Scott cited "credible evidence" that came to the State's attention in late 2013 "supporting a finding that Glenn Ford was neither present at, nor a participant in, the robbery and murder of Isadore Rozeman."

Johnson was convicted of rape and sentenced to life in prison in 1983. He was released from Angola in 2008 after DNA evidence connected another man who was already serving a life sentence for rape to the crime.

"It was hard to believe, it was hard to believe," says Johnson. "I just put it in the Lord's hands and let him take care of it."

Johnson says he experienced a flood of emotions in the first 24 hours following his release. "You're still in trance, you're there but you're not there. You've been in that prison so long. He knows what goes on in Angola, as well as I do. You just hope you're not dreaming, you know what I mean? You just hope you're not dreaming."

Johnson also describes the feeling that society and has moved on without you, and the discovery of just how much technology has advanced. "The whole world had changed. When I went in, they didn't have cell phones. They didn't have computers, none of that. It was very, very surprising," he says.

Johnson encourages Glenn Ford to just take things one day at a time.  "If has family, let them show him around and show him how to do certain little things because he has missed a whole life."

He adds that their stories should be a lesson for all not to judge others so harshly, "Because it could happen to you. It's going to stick with him for the rest of his life, because it's still with me right now."

Johnson says he doesn't hold a grudge against the woman who mistakenly and wrongly accused him of raping her. He now has own leather business in Leesville and says he also volunteers in his community.

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