“Freed & Furious”: Convicted child molester released on special bond 3 months into 5-year sentence
SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — In January 2020, James Daniel Johnson was sentenced to five years in prison for molestation of a juvenile with supervision, following his conviction.
It’s a complicated case we first told you about earlier in 2020. It’s a case that took 16 years to bring to trial and end with a guilty verdict.
James Daniel Johnson, 63, lost his nursing license, received prison time, and had to register as a sex offender.
After serving only three months of his five-year sentence, Johnson is out and the woman who fought for 16 years to put him behind bars wants to know how this could happen.
Samantha Mattison McGee was just 12 years old when she says she was molested by Johnson.
Just before Johnson was sentenced in January, Samantha said, “I didn’t care if I lived or not because I didn’t want that happening anymore."
In open court, Samantha called Johnson a monster and a coward.
She said she was usually asleep when the abuse happened. Johnson was married to her mother, Chris Philibar.
Chris remembers the day her daughter told her about the abuse.
“I looked in her eyes I knew. I knew she was telling the truth as much as I hated to hear it I knew it,” Chris said.
That same day Chris and Samantha packed what they could and left their family home in Broadmoor and never looked back.
Over 16 years, the wheels of justice turned slow and at times stalled. A determined detective got the wheels moving again and arrested Johnson last December on the charges.
Johnson was convicted in December 2019 and sentenced in January 2020. Samantha spent nearly half of her life fighting to put him behind bars.
“When I heard his name and they said ‘guilty’ I was overwhelmed with emotion and then I heard ‘molestation’ knowing that was the word of the highest charge he could have received; I was sitting on the bench and I collapsed to the floor.”
At the time, her mother also filled with emotion said it was unbelievable after 16 years.
Johnson is now appealing his conviction, due to a constitutional law allows for an appeal bond.
It’s a bond that is rarely used in felonies. McGee said she was unaware and thinks most people are of this type of bond.
Stephen Glassell did not represent Johnson during his trial, but has since been hired to represent him during his appeal.
“You rarely see these because most of the time when someone is convicted and they take an appeal their sentence is in excess of five years,” Glassell said.
Caddo District Judge Charles Tutt denied Glassell’s motion to reconsider conviction and sentence. That’s when Glassell filed to appeal the conviction and sentence which automatically granted the bond appeal for a felon sentenced to five years or less.
After posting a $50,000 bond, Johnson is out on bond with no limitations other than not leaving the state of Louisiana.
Samantha said she had no idea he posted bond. She said it was actually her mother who stumbled upon the information one day as she did her weekly checks to make sure he was still locked up.
Chris thought it was a typo.
“Clearly something happened here and somebody dropped the ball in (sending a) notification,” Samantha said.
We contacted the Louisiana State Attorney General’s Office since they prosecuted the case. In a written statement they tell us:
The Department of Corrections did not notify our office when this felon, convicted by a unanimous jury, posted the appeal bond which he was entitled to pursuant to law since the sentence did not exceed five years. We are in the process of filing a motion for protective order with the Court and hope to have a contradictory hearing on the first available date.
The Louisiana Department of Corrections also sent a statement. It reads:
The Department of Corrections was not notified that James Daniel Johnson was bonding out of Caddo Parish Correctional Center. In addition, no one registered as a victim of Johnson with the Louisiana Department of Corrections’ Crime Victims Services Bureau. Per Department policy, persons who have filed a Victim Notice and Registration with the Department of Corrections’ Crime Victims Services Bureau shall be notified by mail of the following events involving offender(s) for which they have registered – 1) court appearance, 2) transfer to transitional work program, 3) release from incarceration by parole, medical parole, diminution of sentence to parole supervision, good time, full-term, compassionate release of death, 4) escape/apprehension, or 5) time computation correction. Furthermore, the Attorney General’s Office was a party to the proceeding where the 1st District Court Judge set the appeal bond. They were in the best position to notify the victim that the inmate was subject to release once he made bond.
Samantha said no one told her she needed to register as a victim, in order to be told that the man convicted of molesting her was out of prison.
Both women add the system has failed them through the 16 years.
The case now heads to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeal in Shreveport. A three-judge panel will review Johnson’ s conviction and sentence.
It could be 6-8 months before a decision.
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