Wrongly-convicted man uses settlement to fund music school

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by DAVID SCHECHTER

Bio | Email | Follow: @davidschechter

WFAA

Posted on June 26, 2014 at 11:15 PM

DUNCANVILLE -- The passion to learn piano was always a dream-out-of-reach for Johnnie Lindsey, let alone the notion of having a majestic baby grand in his own living room.

“I have always had a desire to play the piano," Lindsey said. "That was something magical about it for me."

He served 26 years in state prison, convicted of a rape he did not commit. He lived for Saturday afternoons, when he sang with the prison band and marveled at the piano player.

“It was our escape. I mean, man, we would get in there, and we’d forget we’re in the penitentiary,” Lindsey said.

He was exonerated in 2008, and eventually given a multi-million dollar settlement from the state. Some of it, he used for a baby grand and piano lessons from music teacher Deborah Beach.

“To let them hear the louds and the softs and to feel music from within, that’s what I try to create in all of my students,” Beach said.

Coincidentally, Lindsey took lessons from Beach on Saturday afternoons, that same day he looked forward to in prison. And they’re paying off.

Lindsey is so grateful for the lessons, he recently did something unexpected when Beach told him she wanted to open her own music school at the First Christian Church in Duncanville.

“I said, ‘Whatever you need, I’ll help,’” Lindsey said.

And that’s how he ended up buying her four brand-new keyboards. Just out of the boxes.

“What a difference he’s going to make in someone’s life, through the music and by this wonderful gift," Beach said. "So, he is making a difference for who knows where and how long."

“That’s me. When they see those pianos, that’s me. They’re looking at me. Making music," Lindsey said. "And I feel good about it."

Music brought Lindsey to a better place, and he’s grateful for the Beach for helping him get there.

E-mail dschechter@wfaa.com

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