Criminal courts present long, painful process for families of victims seeking justice

Kristen Johanson
November 30, 2019 - 1:32 pm
David Grier

Philadelphia Police Department


PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Weaving through the criminal court system for many victims' families is a long, arduous and painful process — sometimes taking more than a year and a half for murder cases to be resolved.  One father has been sitting in every hearing for two years to see the man accused of killing his daughter brought to justice.

"It's tough," said Rusten Johnson. Every month for a few hours, Johnson waits patiently in courtroom 1105 every month for a few hours, waiting for David Grier's name to be called. Grier is accused of beating and strangling Johnson's 21-year-old daughter Kierra to death and leaving her body in Cobbs Creek.

Kierra Johnson was just starting her life when she was killed. "Open-minded, real, loving, kind person," her father described. "Very sweet. She wasn't a person who liked violence."

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Authorities say Grier murdered Kierra Johnson as he robbed her in November 2017. The 24-year-old Grier was on parole in California for attempted murder at the time.

Since he's been arrested, Grier has gone through several mental health evaluations, which takes time, and adds more status hearings to his docket. With each hearing, Johnson waits and listens to what's going on in the case. 

"I feel like things will be taken a little more seriously if people see me there and know that I care about it and just make sure they kind of care a little more about it," he said of his presence in the courtroom.

While Johnson understands why the process takes as long as it does, he said it can be frustrating. 

"Some of it angers me, some of it saddens me," he admitted, "but it's all part of the process and I understand that. I am clear with that. And ultimately we want justice. I can't bring my daughter back, but we can get justice and that can be corrected, that can be righted."

When asked how long he could wait for that, he replied, "As long as it takes."