St. Louis — A hearing begins Monday in a case that will decide whether to overturn the conviction of a Missouri man who has spent nearly three decades in prison for a murder that two others later committed. agreed to do
Lamar Johnson has long maintained his innocence, and St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner is supporting his request to vacate his sentence. However, the Missouri attorney general’s office says Johnson was convicted of the 1994 murder of 25-year-old Marcus Boyd and should remain in prison.
The hearing in St. Louis Circuit Court is expected to last five days.
Johnson told CBS St. Louis affiliate KMOV-TV that he is confident about the hearing because “I believe in God. You can lie, you can deny, you can hide the truth, but eventually it’s going to find a way.” … I find comfort in this.
He added that he believed that any impartial judge would be able to see his innocence.
Johnson was convicted of fatally shooting Boyd over a $40 drug debt in 1995 and received a life sentence. Another suspect, Phil Campbell, pleaded guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for a seven-year prison term.
Johnson claimed that he was miles away with his girlfriend when Boyd was killed. Years later, the state’s only witness reiterated his identification of Johnson and Campbell as the shooters. Two other men have since confessed and said Johnson was not involved.
Gardner launched an investigation in collaboration with attorneys at the Midwest Innocence Project. His investigation found misconduct by a prosecutor, false police reports and perjury.
The former prosecutor and detective who investigated the case dismissed Gardner’s allegations.
Last week, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmidt asked the court to sanction Gardner, accusing him of concealing evidence. Schmidt said Gardner’s office failed to notify the attorney general’s office of tests for gunshot residue on a jacket found in the trunk of Johnson’s car after his arrest. Schmidt’s filing states that the evidence was hidden “because it proves Johnson is guilty.”
Gardner, a Democrat, responded by accusing Schmidt, a Republican, of grandstanding. She said the failure to turn in a lab report on the jacket was due to an overlooked email. He also termed it as irrelevant as the jacket was not used in the crime.
Johnson’s claims of innocence were compelling enough to inspire a 2021 state law that makes it easier for prosecutors to seek new trials in cases where there is new evidence of wrongful conviction. that law, last year when a prosecutor told a court that evidence used to convict him had been removed or falsified. He served more than 40 years for the Kansas City triple murder before being set free by a judge.