Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Lamar Johnson: Missouri: (Flawed eyewitness testimony (and much more) case: Neat heading for KCTV story says so much in so few words......"Missouri man waits for Missouri Supreme Court ruling, has already spent 26 years in prison - called innocent by current prosecutor.".....Reporters Angie Ricono and Cyndi Fahrlander. (The lead is also excellent......"Lamar Johnson has spent more than half his life in prison for the 1994 murder of his friend Marcus Boyd." ......"Johnson had an alibi and thought speaking with police would clear things up. 26 years have now rolled by. “They just made up case. And I don’t know how else to say it. I hate to say it. That’s exactly what happened. There’s no motive, no physical evidence, nothing to say I had something to do with this case,” Johnson said. There are so many details in the investigation and trial which now seem shocking in hindsight. Johnson was largely convicted based on eyewitness testimony that identified him as the gunman in the dark, despite the fact that the killer wore a full-face mask."


BACKGROUND: "In a friend-of-the-court brief filed before the state Supreme Court this week, the retired judges joined a growing chorus of support including 45 elected prosecutors, legal scholars, criminal defense attorneys and the American Civil Liberties Union who support the effort by St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner to overturn the conviction of Lamar Johnson. Last July, Gardner filed a motion for a new trial in Johnson’s case after her conviction integrity unit re-investigated the 25-year-old murder investigation into the death of Marcus Boyd. The review found that in 1994 and 1995 police fabricated evidence that linked Johnson to the crime. And during Johnson’s trial, the motion for a new trial states, prosecutors failed to disclose the extensive criminal history of a jailhouse informant and more than $4,000 in payments to the only known living eyewitness to the shooting. (From 'Injustice Watch' story by Emily Hoerner.)

PASSAGE OF THE DAY: "In the meantime, Johnson waits in a prison where sections are on lockdown due to the coronavirus. “It’s amazing to me that you really get down to the grit of this case. I am being denied just a simple hearing because of a procedural technicality and that cannot be more important that the possibility of somebody being wrongfully imprisoned for the rest of their lives,” said Johnson. “Missouri can do better. It can do better."

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STORY: "Missouri man waits for Missouri Supreme Court ruling, has already spent 26 years in prison- called innocent by current prosecutor," by reporters Angie Ricono and  Cyndi Fahrlander, published by  | kctv5.com on September 21, 2020.

GIST: "Lamar Johnson has spent more than half his life in prison for the 1994 murder  of his friend Marcus Boyd.


Johnson had an alibi and thought speaking with police would clear things up. 26 years have now rolled by.


“They just made up case. And I don’t know how else to say it. I hate to say it. That’s exactly what happened. There’s no motive, no physical evidence, nothing to say I had something to do with this case,” Johnson said.


There are so many details in the investigation and trial which now seem shocking in hindsight. Johnson was largely convicted based on eyewitness testimony that identified him as the gunman in the dark, despite the fact that the killer wore a full-face mask.


“I want people to know that regardless of whether you’re white, Black, republican or democrat that this could happen to anybody,” Johnson said.


How should Conviction Integrity Units work? St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner took another look at Johnson’s case years ago. It took Gardner a full 70 pages to outline everything that went wrong.


She didn’t mince her words using phrases like unconstitutional police investigation and prosecutorial misconduct on the very first page. She ended her summary flat out calling what happened as, “Johnson’s wrongful conviction.”


Inside she outlines how others have admitted to the crime and cleared Johnson. She also details how the witness was compensated through a legal fund- something Johnson’s legal team had suspected for years.


Gardner filed a motion asking for a new trial, but a circuit court judge decided there should be a legal counterbalance.


Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s office is arguing it’s not the place of a prosecutor to argue on behalf of a defendant.


Gardner has maintained a prosecutor should seek justice not a conviction rate. The whole legal mess has been bouncing through the courts for more than a year.


“He’s somewhat confused that things are out in the open and the facts out and he’s still waiting for a hearing. He’s a little frustrated,” said Lindsay Runnels, Johnson’s attorney.

The Missouri Supreme Court heard the issue in May but has yet to make a ruling.


In the meantime, Johnson waits in a prison where sections are on lockdown due to the coronavirus.


“It’s amazing to me that you really get down to the grit of this case. I am being denied just a simple hearing because of a procedural technicality and that cannot be more important that the possibility of somebody being wrongfully imprisoned for the rest of their lives,” said Johnson. “Missouri can do better. It can do better.""


The entire story can be read at:

https://www.kctv5.com/news/investigations/missouri-man-waits-for-missouri-supreme-court-ruling-has-already-spent-26-years-in-prison/article_2fc7704c-fc72-11ea-a765-57cd8fc6bf29.html

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic"  section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com.  Harold Levy: Publisher: The Charles Smith Blog;
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FINAL WORD:  (Applicable to all of our wrongful conviction cases):  "Whenever there is a wrongful conviction, it exposes errors in our criminal legal system, and we hope that this case — and lessons from it — can prevent future injustices."
Lawyer Radha Natarajan:
Executive Director: New England Innocence Project;
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FINAL, FINAL WORD (FOR NOW!): "Since its inception, the Innocence Project has pushed the criminal legal system to confront and correct the laws and policies that cause and contribute to wrongful convictions.   They never shied away from the hard cases — the ones involving eyewitness identifications, confessions, and bite marks. Instead, in the course of presenting scientific evidence of innocence, they’ve exposed the unreliability of evidence that was, for centuries, deemed untouchable." So true!
Christina Swarns: Executive Director: The Innocence Project;
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