Reform Activist Pleads Not Guilty in Shocking Murder: Prominent Friends Left Stunned


New York City – Sheldon Johnson, a 48-year-old ex-convict who became an outspoken advocate for criminal justice reform, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder in the Bronx on Tuesday. Johnson, who worked with the Queens Defenders after his release from prison last year, is accused of fatally shooting 44-year-old Collin Small in an apartment and then dismembering and hiding his remains in various locations.

Background on Sheldon Johnson

After spending 25 years in prison for armed robbery, Johnson claimed to have turned his life around and become a top advocate for reforming the criminal justice system. He recounted his transformation on an episode of “The Joe Rogan Experience” in February, attributing it to a spiritual experience he had while flying on an airplane for the first time.

Alleged Murder and Investigation

Police responded to a 911 call and found Small’s headless torso in an apartment on March 5, 2024. They subsequently discovered Small’s feet in a plastic bin under the torso and his head, legs, and one arm stuffed into a freezer in Johnson’s Harlem apartment.

Surveillance footage from Small’s apartment building allegedly shows Johnson entering and leaving multiple times after the murder, often in disguise. Witnesses reported hearing a man begging for mercy and two gunshots shortly before the incident.

Arrest and Court Appearance

Johnson was arrested on Friday and appeared in a Bronx courtroom on Tuesday. He wore a tan sweatsuit and pleaded not guilty to the murder charge. He was remanded into custody without bail.

Connections to Notable Figures

Johnson has taken photos with and been photographed alongside various prominent individuals, including Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, Nets CFO Andy Ryan, and podcaster Joe Rogan.

Reactions and Investigation Status

Queens Defenders, the legal firm where Johnson worked after his release, has declined to comment on his arrest. Manhattan DA Bragg’s office has not responded to requests for comment.

The investigation into Small’s murder is ongoing, and further charges against Johnson or others are possible.

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