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Man finally walks free after spending 28 years in prison for murder he didn't commit

Man finally walks free after spending 28 years in prison for murder he didn't commit

He has spent more than half of his life in prison

A US man who spent nearly 30 years behind bars for a murder he did not commit has finally walked free, having finally had his conviction overturned.

Lamar Johnson, 50, was imprisoned for 28 years after being convicted of murder for the October 1994 death of Marcus Boyd, who was shot dead by two masked men on his front porch in St Louis, Missouri.

Police and prosecutors believed the murder was part of a dispute over drug money, but Johnson always maintained he had not been at home when the attack took place.

He claimed he was with his girlfriend that night, apart from a few minutes when he stepped outside the home of a friend to sell drugs on a corner, several blocks from where Boyd was shot dead.

Erika Barrow, who was Johnson’s girlfriend at the time, testified that she was with him all night, bar the five-minute period when he left to make the drug sale.

She explained that the distance between the friend’s home and Boyd’s house would have made it impossible for Johnson to get there and back within such little time.

Johnson in December last year.

After spending more than half of his life in prison, Johnson has now finally walked free after having the conviction overturned.

Circuit Judge David Mason said that, in coming to his decision, there had to be ‘reliable evidence of actual innocence - evidence so reliable that it actually passes the standard of clear and convincing’.

Mason issued his ruling after one witness recanted his testimony and an inmate confessed to shooting Boyd with another suspect, Phil Campbell.

After the ruling, Johnson addressed reporters in the Missouri courthouse and thanked everyone who had worked on the case, including the judge.

He said: "This is unbelievable.”

While Johnson did not take questions from the press, his lawyers said he now plans to reconnect with his family and enjoy experiences he was denied for most of his adult life.

Johnson now plans to make up for lost time.

They said: "While today brings joy, nothing can restore all that the state stole from him. Nothing will give him back the nearly three decades he lost while separated from his daughters and family.

"The evidence that proved his innocence was available at his trial, but it was kept hidden or ignored by those who saw no value in the lives of two young black men from the South Side."

The Republican-led state attorney general’s office fought to keep Johnson locked up, saying Attorney General Andrew Bailey was ‘committed to enforcing the laws as written’.

Johnson’s lawyers said the attorney general’s office ‘never stopped claiming Lamar was guilty and was comfortable to have him languish and die in prison’, adding: “Yet, when this State’s highest law enforcement office could hide from a courtroom no more, it presented nothing to challenge the overwhelming body of evidence that the circuit attorney and Lamar Johnson had amassed."

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner had filed a motion last August seeking his release, after an investigation her office conducted with the Innocence Project led her to believe he had always been telling the truth.

She applauded the ruling, saying: “Mr. Lamar Johnson. Thank you. You're free.

“[…] This is Valentine's Day and this is historical."

Featured Image Credit: KSDK News

Topics: US News