Man jailed for 28 years for murder he didn't commit
The court ruled that Lamar Johnson should be exonerated for the murder charge of Marcus Boyd. Judge David Mason determined Johnson's fate after a 5-day hearing in December and 60 days of deliberation. The edition told in more detail KSDK.
The court documents said: "The testimony provides clear and conclusive evidence that Lamar Johnson is innocent and did not commit the murder of Marcus Boyd, either individually or acting with another person."
He walked free after the meeting beaming. Johnson approached reporters in the lobby of the courthouse about two hours after the ruling and thanked everyone who worked on his case, as well as the judge.
"It's incredible," he said without answering any questions.
St. Louis District Attorney Kim Gardner, who filed a motion for Johnson's release in August after her office's investigation with Project Innocence convinced her he was telling the truth, welcomed the decision.
Mr Lamar Johnson. Thank you. You are free,” she told the assembled press.
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Gardner said this is time Johnson can spend with his lawyers and family.
“It's Valentine's Day and it's historic. This is an amazing day. We showed that the city of St. Louis and the state of Missouri stand for justice, not the finality of the sentence, ”she said.
Johnson was sentenced to life in prison for Boyd's death after Boyd was gunned down on his front porch by two men wearing ski masks on October 30, 1994. While Johnson was sent to life in prison, the second suspect, Phil Campbell, pleaded guilty in exchange for a seven-year prison sentence. Campbell is dead.
Johnson is now 49 years old and spent almost 28 years in prison after being convicted of murder in 1995.
Special counsel Jonathan Potts said they spent a year investigating the case before filing a motion in August 2022 to overturn the conviction.
“We located the real killer, and he admitted in an open courtroom that he, and not Lamar Johnson, actually killed the victim,” Potts said.
Laura Barczewski of 5 On Your Side asked Potts, "Do you think the justice system really treated him unfairly in this case?"
Potts said: “Absolutely it was. This case, you know, on the one hand concerns Lamar. And it's about making sure that an innocent person doesn't spend the rest of his life in prison answering for the mistakes of others."
Activist Darryl Gray remarked that it was indeed inspiring. According to Gray, the result is reassuring and gives him hope for the rest of the innocent prisoners.
“It shows that legislation can work, that process can work, that justice can work. If you apply it fairly, if you apply justice with an open mind," Gray emphasized.
The family was overwhelmed and very happy to have Lamar Johnson at home.
“Now he will have the kind of relationship that he has been putting off for the last 28 years of his life. And in April, I think he will be able to spend his daughter down the aisle, ”Potts emphasized.
Johnson, before leaving to start his life over, said: "Glad to be free."
The state's Republican-led attorney general's office fought to keep Johnson in custody. Office spokeswoman Madeleine Siren said the office will take no further action on the case.
“Our office defended the rule of law and worked to uphold the original verdict, which Johnson's fellow jurors felt was appropriate based on the facts presented in court,” she wrote.
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Johnson's lawyers criticized the state attorney general's office after the hearing, saying they "never stopped asserting Lamar's innocence."
"However, when this state's top law enforcement agency could no longer hide from the courtroom, it presented nothing to challenge the massive amount of evidence that the district attorney and Lamar Johnson had gathered," the statement said.
Louis Attorney Kim Gardner pushed for Johnson's release. Gardner's office released a statement following the decision: "Today, the courts corrected an error by setting aside the conviction of Lamar Johnson following his 1995 wrongful conviction. We celebrate with Johnson and his family as he walks out of the courtroom a free man."
The Johnson case even led to a Missouri law making it easier for prosecutors to rehear cases.
The new law released another longtime prisoner in 2021.
Kevin Strickland of Kansas City, Missouri was released from prison at the age of 62 after spending 40 years behind bars for an imperfect triple homicide. He claimed he was not at the crime scene, and Jackson County Attorney Jean Peters Baker said the audit convinced her that Strickland was telling the truth.
When the Missouri Supreme Court denied Strickland's plea for release in June 2021, Peters Baker used the new state law to force a rehearing. At this hearing, the judge ordered Strickland's release.
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