Private sector prosecutor W. David McFadyen betrayed the people’s trust as special prosecutor in the James Johnson “accessory after the fact” case. By his own admission, he revealed to media types that one of his primary goals as prosecutor in this controversial case was to work on behalf of parents and family of the Wilson teen murder victim Brittany Willis. Unfortunately, that is not Mr. McFadyen’s role. As a prosecutor, even if he comes from the private sector, he should represent all the people of North Carolina, and not just the victim’s family.
Wilson Times writer Gina Childress captured the following admission from McFadyen:
"My principle goal in this case was to do what I could within the bounds of the law to bring some satisfaction and closure to the Willis family, and I believe we have achieved that," McFadyen said. "And in my opinion, I believe we have achieved our most important purpose by ending this part of the nightmare -- emphasizing this part of the nightmare-- because certainly the nightmare of the death of their daughter will stay with them.”
So it is obvious that Special Prosecutor McFadyen had an agenda to do what he could against James Johnson from the very start, and it is very clear from the aforementioned statement that his earlier stated lofty goals to be fair and impartial and follow the evidence in this case, was nothing but a façade. McFadyen’s other motivation in wasting taxpayer money in pursuing this case was, of course, to protect Wilson Prosecutor Bill Wolfe from a complaint lodged with the North Carolina State Bar against Wolfe. From day one, McFadyen had planned to impose the harshest penalty he could against Johnson. It was never his intention to evaluate the “accessory” case on its merits and determine whether or not the case should move forward to trial. McFadyen only went through the thinly veiled motions of trying to appear unbiased and fair.
What is truly ironic and nonsensical are the attitude and hostility the Willis family has towards James Johnson. I believe that, by now, most people, even those in Wilson, have reached the conclusion that James Johnson had nothing to do with the crimes against Brittany Willis; that they were committed by Kenneth Meeks, alone. The parents of Brittany Willis should be grateful to James Johnson for coming forward to the police and solving the case against their daughter. Had he not come forth, the Willis murder case would most likely still not be solved. The reason for their animus towards Mr. Johnson is due to the actions and statements made by the prosecutors and police of Wilson, and to the way the media types presented the case to the public (not unlike the way the media selectively and unfairly targeted, vilified and pummeled former Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong). I hold the media responsible for sowing the negative attitudes against Johnson that are held by most people in Wilson. James Johnson is a hero, and solved one of Wilson’s most heinous crimes. The Willis family should embrace this young man who went against the “no-snitch” law of the streets in order to bring the guilty party to justice.
Closure for the Willis family should have come years earlier, with the admission by Kenneth Meeks of being the sole perpetrator of the crime and his statements clearing Johnson of any participation or involvement. The media, McFadyen, prosecutors, and police are responsible for prolonging the pain and suffering of the Willises and the Wilson community.
With the unjust outcome in this case that culminated with an Alford plea by Johnson, the media has made the determination that the entire case, for all intents and purposes, is over and that healing can now begin. This, despite the fact that one other person has been charged in this crime, Julian Tyson Deans, and no action has been taken against him. Will the state go after Mr. Deans with the same vigor as it did against Mr. Johnson? Considering North Carolina’s criminal justice tenet of “selective justice based on Class and Color,” that is very unlikely.