A judge granted Michael Johnson, the former college wrestler known as the Tiger Mandingo, parole from his 30-year (reduced to 10 years) prison sentence. He received the sentence after ‘recklessly’ transmitting HIV to one male partner and exposing it to at least four others.
However, at the end of 2016, he received an opportunity for a new trial.
According to BuzzFeed News, though, Johnson’s lawyers say he’s been granted parole. He will remain incarceration at Boonville Correctional Facility until 9 October 2019, six years after his initial arrest.
The long and complicated story
Johnson was a star college wrestler at Missouri’s Lindenwood University. Police first arrested him in 2013 and his trial was full of race and sex discussion. Evidence presented to the court included images and descriptions of Johnson’s ‘huge’ penis.
He initially received his 30.5 years prison sentence.
In 2016, a Missouri appeals court overturned this conviction due to the timing of evidence. Last year, Johnson agreed to a 10-year, no contest plea deal rather than face another trial.
‘We had some hopes, because of all the support Michael had received and a couple of other factors, that he would get out at an earlier date,’ one of his lawyers, Eric Selig, said.
His early release depends on him not accruing any violations over the next year and a half.
If released in 2019, Johnson plans to live with his friend Meredith Rowan, who attended his parole hearing, in Indiana.
Many activists and organizations, such as the American Medical Association, criticize laws singling out HIV. Many states in recent years have changed their laws about HIV exposure. Last year, California passed a bill that reduced HIV exposure from a felony to a misdemeanor.
Update: A previous version of this story said Johnson infected six partners. He only infected one and exposed the virus to at least four others.