There’s still time to save John Walker and Darryl Boyd’s lives.
They can still breathe.
It was 45 years ago that Lady “Injustice’ knelt on their necks and the necks of their three friends, Darryn Gibson, Floyd Martin and Tyrone Woodruff.
It was in 1976 and William Crawford, a White man, was murdered in the driveway of his Fillmore Avenue home across from the Golden Nugget.
Five innocent 16-year-old Black boys (The Buffalo 5) were picked up and charged with the crime. And the nightmare began.
They were separated.
Tyrone Woodruff, frightened and scared, was forced into a false confession to lie on his friends and was set free. It was a lie he regrets to this day and has tried to recant that testimony a number of times with no success.
John Walker, Darryl Boyd and Darryn Gibson ended up with court appointed lawyers who were either incompetent or did not care and who threw them to the wolves.
“Our families were poor. We had an all White jury. There was no evidence. No blood. No weapon. No nothing,” John said In a previous Challenger interview. “Just a host of discrepancies.”
Darryn was sentenced to 25 years to life and served 36 years. Darryl Boyd was given 20 to life and served a total of 26 years; and John Walker was given 17 to life and served 22 years. He completed 18 years on lifetime parole without any violations.
But Walker never stopped fighting to prove he and his friends were innocent – both while in prison and after he was released. Darryl joined him in the quest when he came home.
Tragically, Darryn Gibson died of a massive heart attack only a few months after he was released from prison.
Floyd Martin was the only one whose family could afford to hire an attorney.They hired a brilliant young lawyer by the name of James McLeod, who later became a respected Buffalo City Court Judge.
Floyd was found innocent.And the knee was lifted.
Fast forward to 2021.
On June 3, after serving a combined 82 years in prison for a crime they did not commit; over four decades of fighting for their freedom and to have Indictment 41-413 vacated, John Walker and Darryl Boyd, representing “The Buffalo5” – will finally get a chance to prove their innocence, in a court of law.
Ironically retired justice McLeod, will be a key witness in the case.
“There was never a question of their innocence,” McLeod said reflecting on what was clearly a miscarriage of justice.
“Each trial was separate – each had a different lawyer and the same result (with the exception of his client).
“To be able to show finally the difference between a defendant found not guilty and three others convicted based on the same facts pertaining to the same homicide is not a normal situation,” he concluded.
“In my opinion the chances are good they’re finally getting an opportunity to go before a judge with information that has not yet been presented.”
John and Darryl are cautiously optimistic .
They are fathers with sons – D’Anthony Boyd and John Walker III – and they want their names cleared. Neither wants their son to have to live with the legacy of being the son of a convicted murderer.
“This is what we’ve been fighting for the longest,” said John. “I’ve always said ‘we just need one day in court’ and now we got that day in court! This is the first time a judge has said ok, bring what you got. It was always dismissed before we could even get in the courtroom. We never got a chance to walk into the courtroom to try to tell ya’ll we didn’t have anything to do with this murder!”
John Walker has done an extraordinary job, with Darryn’s help, of evidence gathering and even identifying, who they believe, actually committed the crime. But he is deceased.
“We just want our life back,” said Darryl. “We just want our freedom so we can live whatever lives God has for us because it should never have been taken from us.”
“And it should be noted that it was intentional,” added John. “They purposely manufactured evidence to put us in the position we were in. Had they done any kind of detective work nothing could have placed us at the scene of that crime.”
“We grew up in prison. We had no life. No freedom. And even now we’re still suffering.”
They expressed sincere gratitude for all the support they have received over the years from the community.
“This is an historic hearing,” continued John. “Our story has been consistent all these years. We’ve been saying from day one that we had nothing to do with that crime. Now we finally have a chance to prove it.”