Her Book About Her Kidnapper Triggers Effort to Free Him

Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy cites discrepancies between book, testimony
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 25, 2022 3:50 PM CST
Her Book About Her Kidnapper Triggers Effort to Free Him
Stock photo of prison bars.   (Getty Images / montiannoowong)

Sharon Muse Johnson's 2020 book is titled, Kidnapped by a Client: The Incredible True Story of a Lawyer’s Fight for Justice. Now some are taking issue with that "true" part and are fighting to get a man's conviction overturned. Frankie Covington is 16 years into a life sentence for the 2006 kidnapping of Muse Johnson, who had represented him once: in a preliminary hearing in which she secured his release from jail. She said he later came to her office as she was leaving for the day requesting her help with a will; she instructed him to make an appointment, and he asked that she give him a ride home. The Louisville Courier Journal reports she has variously said she agreed or refused to do so, but has maintained that he forced her to drive to a secluded farm and tried to rape her; she escaped.

The Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy now says Covington's conviction should be revoked and a new trial should be ordered because Muse Johnson—now the commonwealth’s attorney for Bourbon, Scott, and Woodford counties—perjured herself during the trial. The accusation is based on what the agency's attorneys say are "glaring inconsistencies" between her testimony and the details provided in her book; they note it's possible the crime never occurred. They say they looked into the case after one of the prosecutors on it, former assistant Commonwealth Attorney Keith Eardley, flagged his concerns.

The Courier Journal quotes the motion as saying that Muse Johnson said in a police interview that Covington only laid hands on the back of her neck; at trial, she said he touched her in a number of places, including near her genitalia. In the book, she wrote he "punched me all over my body" and smashed her head into various parts of the car. A lawyer for Muse Johnson points out that she beat Eardley in the race for commonwealth’s attorney. He tells the News Graphic, "These attacks against her are being pushed because of a political agenda by a former prosecutor she beat for office in 2018. Ms. Muse-Johnson’s book was published [in 2020]. If there was any validity to the issues her former opponent seeks to raise, he would have raised them years ago." (More Kentucky stories.)

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