ST. LOUIS - A St. Louis man was sentenced for an armed robbery Thursday that he and his lawyers say another man committed in the Central West End.
Cornell McKay told the court Thursday that it's "unreal" he was being sentenced for someone else's crime and that he believes the victim made an honest mistake. Prosecutors say they got their guy.
McKay will be 34 when he gets out of prison. He was sentenced to 12 years for robbing a woman at gunpoint in August 2012 at North Boyle and Lindell.
"Justice is going to prevail for my son. We know he's innocent, and despite all this mess, it's going to be ok," said Adriane Smith.
Smith stands by her son's claim of innocence. But the victim is a different story. In court, she called the robbery traumatizing and blamed it for losing her unborn child. McKay apologized for what happened, but said it wasn't him. His lawyers say she mistakenly identified him.
"I definitely know she did, and I believe that the identification was suggested and then bolstered by the investigators," said Robert Ramsey.
They claim Keith Esters, the man in prison for killing former SLU volleyball player Megan Boken, admitted to his girlfriend that he robbed the woman and stole the phone. He also claims that when investigators showed her a picture of Esters before her deposition that she noted that he looks similar to the person that attacked her. Ramsey says prosecutors ignored those pieces of evidence.
"Those things don't happen in the absence of a lawyer feeling like they have to dress up the facts."
"It's almost like a game to them just to pin some young black man for a crime they know he did not commit," added McKay's pastor Chris Douglas.
The Circuit Attorney's Office says the public should understand that getting the right person is the foundation of what they do.
"These matters were investigated, they were researched, and we really believe that all of those things that have been brought up have been litigated, and the right person, Cornell Mckay has been litigated," said spokesperson Susan Ryan. "At any point if there were any doubts from this office, we would have addressed that."
McKay's lawyers say they'll be appealing the conviction and the sentence, alleging constitutional violations, and evidentiary mistakes in trial.