ST. LOUIS – One day after Missouri’s attorney general asked for a sanction against Kim Gardner, the St. Louis Circuit Attorney reacted by calling his efforts “outlandish” and “politically motivated.”
Gardner’s office was not sanctioned by St. Louis Circuit Judge David Mason for failing to disclose evidence in the Lamar Johnson case to the Missouri Attorney General.
However, the evidence can be allowed into a hearing to decide whether to overturn Johnson’s murder conviction, as long as the attorney general lays a solid foundation to do so.
Attorney General Eric Schmitt, leaving his position for U.S. Senate next month, requested a sanction against Gardner on Thursday. His office is accusing her of concealing evidence in her effort to vacate the conviction for Lamar Johnson, a man who has spent nearly 30 years in prison for murder.
Gardner’s Office shared the following statement, in part, with FOX 2 on Friday afternoon:
“The Missouri Attorney General filed an outlandish, politically-motivated motion for sanctions against St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner. This motion is a weak attempt to distract from his own office’s failures to disclose evidence and play politics with an innocent man’s – Lamar Johnson’s – life.”
Lamar Johnson was convicted in 1994 of killing 25-year-old Marcus Boyd in an alleged drug dispute. Johnson has long claimed innocence. Gardner filed a motion in August asking a St. Louis judge to vacate the conviction and free Johnson from prison.
Johnson was sentenced to life in prison without parole, while another suspect, Phil Campbell, pleaded guilty to a reduced charge in exchange for a seven-year prison term. Johnson claimed he was miles away when the murder happened and had just left a friend when Boyd was killed.
Years later, the state’s only witness recanted his identification of Campbell and Johnson as the shooters. In addition, two other men confessed to Boyd’s killing and said Johnson was not involved.
The judge has not yet ruled in the case, but a hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. Monday at St. Louis Circuit Court in the Carnahan courthouse, 1114 Market St.
Gardner’s office issued a 12-page response to Schmitt’s accusations Friday.
According to court documents, Gardner alleges that Schmitt disclosed 14 pieces of evidence over the case on Dec. 5, more than a month after the deadline through which the counsel requested information.
Documents also allege that the Attorney General’s Office skipped a legally-required step of picking up the phone or sending the Circuit Attorney’s Office a one-sentence email asking about an additional document and instead obtained documents through a third party.
One document at the center of the motion regards an email on residue testing on a Chicago Blackhawks jacket that Gardner’s Office claims is not associated with the crime.
In court documents, Gardner alleges her office opened its physical files to the Attorney General’s Office for inspection on Nov. 30, though the attorney general by opening up its own files regarding Johnson.
Schmitt’s filing Thursday in St. Louis Circuit Court said the circuit attorney’s office falsely claimed that it had provided all forensic testing to the attorney general as part of the discovery process.
“The Circuit Attorney never disclosed she received the positive results of a gunshot residue test on Johnson’s jacket seized from his trunk when he was arrested,” the court filing stated. “The Circuit Attorney has personally concealed evidence from the Attorney General and from this Court. The concealed evidence is material because it tends to prove that Johnson is guilty. Sanctions must issue.”
Gardner wants to vacate Johnson’s conviction, a move that would free him from prison. Her office outlined misconduct in a 67-page report stating that police and prosecutors made up evidence, secretly paid a witness, falsified witness statements, and bribed a man with $4,000 to falsely identify Johnson as the shooter.
Gardner worked with legislators to pass a new law allowing Missouri prosecutors to file motions to vacate or set aside a conviction in certain cases, such as Johnson’s. The law also prevents the Missouri Attorney General from intervening in such cases.