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Alternative Suspects

The prosecution ignored evidence that pointed to anyone other than Gary Sutton and his uncle despite alternative suspects and inconsistencies.

Among the most compelling alternative suspects in the death of Tommy Griffin is Lester “Festus” Johnson, a violent man with a clear motive for killing Tommy after he was subpoenaed to testify against him at an unrelated trial.

On September 13, 1991, Lester was charged in the brutal rape and attempted murder of Tina Hartman as revenge for her involvement in an assault of his cousin Mike Vaughn. Tommy was subpoenaed to testify against Lester. The prosecutor for Lester’s case Chris Clapsaddle Matheson recalls Lester as one of the most dangerous defendants that she has prosecuted. For a long period after his trial, she was placed under police protection with her family due to threats he made to her.

Though Lester was ultimately acquitted for the attack on Tina Hartman, Lester’s girlfriend revealed that he admitted to assaulting Tina. Moreover, she later confirmed that he had traveled to east Tennessee shortly after he was acquitted at the time Tommy was murdered.

This raises significant doubt about Gary’s alleged involvement.

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