A court in Saint Louis, Missouri, overturned Lamar Johnson’s conviction on Tuesday. So the 50-year-old African-American spent nearly 28 years innocently behind bars for murder. American and English-language media write that.
Johnson walked out of court a free man. “This is unbelievable,” he said. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1994 for the murder of Marcus Boyd, an accusation he has consistently denied. Boyd was shot dead on Johnson’s front porch by masked men. Johnson indicated several times that he was not home at the time of the attack.
Saint Louis circuit attorney Kim Gardner filed a motion to secure Johnson’s release in August after investigating with the nonprofit Innocence Project and believing the man was telling the truth.
According to the judge who overturned the conviction, two witnesses provided “clear and convincing evidence” that Johnson was innocent. However, one witness recanted his statement. In addition, an inmate confessed to shooting Boyd with another suspect, Phil Campbell. At the original trial, Campbell pleaded guilty to a reduced charge: he was sentenced to seven years in prison.
According to Johnson’s legal team, the Missouri Attorney General’s office maintained that Johnson was guilty and wanted him to “waste in jail and die.” The evidence for Johnson’s innocence “was hidden or unnoticed by those who saw no cost in the lives of two young South Side black men,” NBC News quoted the statement as saying.
“Our office fortified the rule of law and worked to sustain the original verdict that a jury deemed appropriate based on the facts presented at trial,” the attorney general’s office said in a statement.