Response of Commission’s Executive Director to Recent Media Coverage in Winston-Salem Journal on June 14, 2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | From the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission | Lindsey Guice Smith, Executive Director

The Commission’s mission is to ensure the innocent as well as the guilty receive justice.  The arrest of Darren Johnson is a direct result of the information uncovered by the Commission’s investigation.  That investigation came decades after the police interviewed Mr. Johnson, accepted his answers, and closed any case against him.  

Merritt Williams only applied to the Commission for his convictions related to the Wilson and Bryson cases. Nonetheless, Commission staff presented the facts related to the death of Mary Smith to the Commissioners as relevant in analyzing the two cases for which Williams applied. The Commission’s goal is truth, not results, so the fact that one case was voted forward and one was not does not show that the State’s resources have been used inappropriately. Any investigation that is geared toward, and does find truth in the criminal justice system provides closure to Victims and safety to our society.  That is never a waste of resources.  

The North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission is a state agency charged with investigating post-conviction claims of factual innocence. The agency was created by the General Assembly in 2006 and began operations in 2007. The Commission is the first and only of its kind in the country. Since 2007, the Commission has conducted investigations that have resulted in the exoneration of 11 individuals and over 2600 claims have been submitted to the agency.

For more information, please contact the Commission’s Executive Director, Lindsey Guice Smith, at (919) 890-1580 or You may also find more information on the Commission’s website at