ST. LOUIS, Mo. – There is a court hearing Monday morning could determine whether a murder conviction against a St. Louis man should be overturned. Lamar Johnson, 49, is set to begin at 10:00 a.m. at the Carnahan Courthouse. The hearing could last five days.
Johnson has long maintained his innocence in this case. His conviction has become the center of a legal battle between Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner and Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt.
Johnson has been behind bars for nearly three decades. He was sentenced to life in prison for the 1994 murder of 25-year-old Marcus Boyd. The shooting was over a $40 drug debt. Another man, Phil Campbell, pleaded guilty to a reduced charge in exchange for a 7-year prison term.
Johnson claimed he was miles away with his girlfriend when Boyd was killed. Years after the crime, the state’s only witness recanted his identification of Johnson and Campbell as the killers. Two other men have since confessed to the murder and said Johnson was not involved.
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner launched an investigation with the Midwest Innocence Project. In a 67-page report, Gardner says police and prosecutors made up evidence and secretly paid a witness. She believes the conviction against Johnson should be overturned, and he should go free.
Attorney General Eric Schmitt believes Johnson was rightfully convicted and should remain in prison. Last week, Schmitt asked the court to sanction Gardner, accusing her of concealing evidence that could point to Johnson’s guilt. Gardner responded by accusing Schmitt of grandstanding.