Teen’s False Confession In Murder Case Leads To Questions

(Memphis) The attorney for a teen who was locked up for two months for a crime that he didn’t commit said what happened to his client could’ve been avoided.

“It’s common knowledge that a child’s confession doesn’t equate to an adults confession. Research has been show that children can be lead into certain facts,” said James Sanders.

His client, Terrell Johnson, was arrested in October and charged with first-degree murder after Memphis contractor J.P. Shelley was shot and killed during a robbery.

Johnson was the accused getaway driver, and prosecutors say he confessed to the crime, with detail.

“He’s maintained from day one that I have anything to do with this and in the course of time they produce a document that they state is his statement,” said Sanders.

“Who knows why he confessed and that wasn’t what we needed to answer yesterday and it’s not what we need to answer today,” said District Attorney General Amy Weirich Wednesday.

“Any statement that a defendant gives, that a witness gives, is a part of the case. Very rarely is a confession going to be all that we have,” Weirich added.

But Sanders says there needs to be training for officers who deal with children, so they can help children understand their rights.

“It would certainly serve justice if the police department, not just this police department but all police departments get sufficient training,” said Sanders.

The U.S Department of Justice released a report about the Shelby County Juvenile system last week that highlighted the lack of understanding juveniles have about their Miranda Rights.