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Gardner files for new trial in 1995 murder case after internal investigation

An internal report said the investigation used fabricated evidence, unconstitutional police investigation tactics and concealed evidence in the 1995 trial.

ST. LOUIS — St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner filed a motion for a new trial for a man convicted of a 1994 murder after an investigation found the prosecution hid evidence during the trial.

According to a report by the Circuit Attorney's Conviction Integrity Unit, Lamar Johnson was found guilty in part due to fabricated evidence, unconstitutional police investigation tactics, concealed evidence and other issues.

On Oct. 30, 1994, Marcus Boyd and another man were sitting on the front porch of Boyd's apartment when two armed men in ski masks ran up and shot Boyd multiple times. Boyd later died at the hospital.

Lamar Johnson was arrested and charged with murder after an investigation that the report said was not thorough and competent. The report said police paid the only eyewitness of the crime $4,000 to identify Johnson as the shooter without telling the defense. The report also said officers falsified witness statements to create a motive that did not exist.

The report said prosecutors failed to correct false and misleading testimony from their witnesses, keeping Johnson from receiving a fair trial. 

He was found guilty of the murder in July of 1995 and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

In sworn affidavits and personal writings, two men — Johnson's co-defendant Phillip Campbell and a man named James “BA” Howard — credibly admitted to the crime. The report said Campbell even wrote letters saying Johnson had nothing to do with the shooting, which prosecutors confiscated but did nothing to correct the wrongful conviction.

The Midwest Innocence Project took up Johnson's case starting in 2008. The non-profit utilized help from multiple attorneys as well as students at UMKC School of Law and the University of Missouri.

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