New hope for Missouri man, who swears he’s innocent, as prosecutor asks courts to vacate conviction

Published: Aug. 31, 2022 at 5:49 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - Lamar Johnson has spent more than 27 years in prison for a murder in Missouri he swears he didn’t do.

On Wednesday, Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner filed a motion (which can be viewed in its entirety below) to vacate that old conviction:

“The judgment should be set aside because there is clear and convincing evidence that Johnson is innocent.”

This is the same legal path that ultimately freed Kevin Strickland.

Johnson has been the focus of numerous KCTV5 investigative reports, as his legal team and even the local prosecutor revealed new information in the case that calls the conviction into doubt.

Johnson’s legal team praised the new motion:

“For 27 years, Lamar has waited for justice. We hope that today’s detailed motion marks the beginning of the end of Lamar’s road to freedom. We have long said the truth always finds a way, and that Lamar only needed a chance to tell it. The time has finally come. We look forward to a fair and just hearing in the City of St. Louis.”

Case history

Johnson was largely convicted on eyewitness testimony, despite the gunman wearing a full ski mask in the dark.

Johnson’s lawyers point out the eyewitness was paid $4,000.

The eyewitness also admits in a letter that he was pressured and coerced by police and prosecutors.

Johnson’s legal team argues the real killer escaped punishment and the family of the murder victim, Marcus Boyd, never received true justice.

Johnson has remained hopeful he will be freed despite losing court battles, which were about legal procedure and not the merits of his case.

“I have to believe God has another plan for me,” Lamar Johnson said back in 2019. “He’s got to have a different purpose than for me to die here. And, I believe eventually the right thing will be done. I have to believe that.”

Johnson is represented by a team of lawyers that includes: Lindsay Runnels with Morgan Pilate, Tricia Rojo Bushnell with the Midwest Innocence Project, and attorneys from Lathrop and Gage.

Previous coverage:

Eyewitness testimony often unreliable yet widely used to win convictions