Johnny Earl Edwards: the archive

class=img_thumbleft>This week's City Pages contains a news story about the recent criminal exploits of Johnny Earl Edwards, the most infamous snitch in Minneapolis history. Loyal CP readers will be extremely familiar with Edwards. He first made the paper in a January 1997 cover story ("Get Out of Jail Free") detailing Edwards dubious role as a paid informant helping to prosecute six members of the Rolling 30s Bloods. In the ensuing months CP staff writer Beth Hawkins (who penned pretty much all of the coverage over the years) detailed how Edwards's unreliable testimony led to the acquittal of Obuatawan Holt on attempted murder charges ("Bad Company") and was used to garner a questionable plea deal from Milton Lewis for second degree unintentional murder ("State's Evidence").

The one-legged snitch (Edwards had his leg shot off in 1993) was back on the CP cover in February 1998, this time for his suspect role in the prosecution of Dameion Robinson for the murder of Derangle Riley ("Stool Pigeon"). Ultimately Hennepin County prosecutors didn't call the infamous informant to testify and Robinson was convicted of first-degree murder ("Stool Pigeon Redux"). Later that year Edwards again made headlines when he was charged with possessing and selling crack cocaine ("Snitch Glitch"). The irony? The case was built on cooperation from anonymous informants.

Edwards made three appearances in CP in 1999. The first ("The Plot Thickens") laid out his role in a second trial against Robinson, this time for attempted murder. Robinson was acquitted. In May Edwards finally faced prison time himself, pleading guilty to shooting two men, as well as narcotics violations. He was sentenced to just over seven years in prison ("Johnny's Last Song"). Edwards's specter continued to haunt the courts, however, resulting in a controversial plea bargain by Solomon Shannon on manslaughter and robbery charges ("Snitch Botch").

In November 2002, as CP reported at the time, Edwards apparently had a change of heart. During a hearing regarding Alonzo Ferguson's motion for a new trial on his 1996 murder conviction, the snitch's father, John Turnipseed, took the stand. He told the court that his son had lied when he'd testified that Ferguson had killed a Chicago man ("He's Sorry"). The only reason Edwards didn't testify as such himself: he was worried about being prosecuted for perjury. Ferguson was eventually granted a new trial ("Trial By Color"). That case resulted in a hung jury ("Try, Try Again"). Finally, in a third trial, Ferguson was convicted of first-degree murder.

Perhaps this will be the last chapter of the Edwards saga. But don't count on it.