Sep 10, 2001
On January 6, 2000, Malcolm Rent Johnson was put to death for rape and murder by the state of Oklahoma. Mr. Johnson was convicted of these crimes in 1982, with the most damaging testimony coming from an Oklahoma City police lab chemist, Joyce Gilchrist. Gilchrist testified that six samples taken from the victim’s bedroom showed semen consistent with Johnson’s blood type.
A newspaper reporter has now obtained an internal police memorandum, written on July 31, 2000, which shows that the evidence used to convict Johnson was fraudulent. This memo was sent to the Oklahoma City attorney’s office by Laura Schile, another lab chemist on July 31. Ms. Schile’s re-examination of the microscope slides used by Gilchrist in the Johnson case indicated that “spermatozoa is not present.” Her analysis was confirmed by the other three chemists working in the lab. Sperm does not deteriorate for decades, so there is no chance it was on these slides earlier, when Gilchrist testified in court that it was.
Gilchrist was clearly lying, and her lies cost Malcolm Rent Johnson his life.
This is not a question of one pathological liar ready to fabricate a story to get convictions – although Gilchrist certainly was that. Gilchrist’s lies had long been suspected as a result of questions by other medical technicians. As soon as Gilchrist came under suspicion, the Oklahoma City authorities, if they were concerned with justice, would have pulled all her cases, putting an absolute hold on all executions. Instead, police and prosecutors have been busy defending HER and claiming that her lies were innocent mistakes and/or that they didn’t cause any innocent person to lose their life.
As of today, 11 of 23 people condemned to death based primarily on her testimony have been executed.
No wonder authorities have not publicly released Schile’s memo exposing the role that Gilchrist’s lies played in sending Johnson to his death. Instead, they harassed Schile so much she finally resigned from HER job on August 2, citing a hostile work environment as the reason for her departure.
Public officials in Oklahoma City are as guilty as Gilchrist of lying to convict and execute Malcolm Rent Johnson for crimes he almost surely did not commit.