Meet the Exonerees

John Tennison

State: California
Date of Birth:
Incident Date: 19-Aug-89
Age at Arrest: 17
Conviction Date: 1990
Age When Exonerated: 31
Exonerated Date: 29-Aug-03
Time Served: 13
Conviction: Murder
False Confession: No
Implicated by Another Youth: Yes

Case Details

On August 19, 1989, Roderick Shannon was shot and killed in San Francisco, the result of escalating gang violence in the area. Under pressure to crack down on this recent increase, San Francisco police were quick to peg seventeen-year-old John “J.J.” Tennison and his co-defendant, nineteen-year-old Antione Goff, as guilty. Their arrest was based primarily on the eyewitness accounts of two young girls. He and Goff were tried and convicted in 1990, and sentenced to twenty-five years to life and twenty-seven years to life, respectively. Thanks to the persistence of Tennison’s defense lawyers, it was discovered that the prosecution had withheld key evidence proving innocence. Finally, after serving nearly fourteen years in prison, John Tennison was released from jail on August 29, 2003. He was awarded $4.5 million in compensation for his wrongful conviction.