Mo. Man Seeks Exoneration in 1994 Murder 2 Others Confessed to, Witness Alleges Police Misconduct

Lamar Johnson, incarcerated for nearly 30 years, is fighting for his freedom for a crime he says he didn't commit

Mandatory Credit: Photo by David Carson/AP/Shutterstock (13662520a) Lamar Johnson takes a seat in court at the start of his wrongful conviction hearing in St. Louis on Wrongful Conviction-Missouri, St. Louis, United States - 12 Dec 2022
Photo: David Carson/AP/Shutterstock

Lamar Johnson, incarcerated for nearly 30 years for a 1994 murder he says he didn't commit, is back in a St. Louis courtroom. This time, he's fighting for his freedom after the St. Louis Circuit Attorney filed a motion to overturn his conviction, multiple outlets report.

Johnson and another man, Phillip Campbell, were convicted of shooting Marcus Boyd on the night of Oct. 30, 1994, over an alleged drug debt. Both men went to prison for the crime. Campbell is now deceased, per reports.

However, at Monday's hearing, another man, James Howard, reportedly confessed to Boyd's murder, saying it was actually he and Campbell who had killed Boyd and that Johnson had nothing to do with it. Howard said he and Campbell killed Boyd because he'd "disrespected Howard's partner, Sirone Spates, aka Puffy," according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

During the new hearing, which began Monday, new evidence was also presented indicating that a star witness in Johnson's trial, which began in 1995, may have been pressured or coerced into identifying Johnson as a suspect. Greg Elking told the court that, when authorities questioned him after the killing, he was pushed into naming Johnson.

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"I wanted to help. I just seen a guy get murdered. It was a friend of [mine]. Law enforcement was wanting me to help. … I trusted everybody down there at that point that was trying to solve that murder," Elking testified, according to the St. Louis Dispatch.

"I hate it, and I've been living with it for 30, 25, 28 years. I just wish I could change time," Elking also said on the stand, per the Dispatch. He also claimed he was paid off for the alleged false identification.

But Assistant Missouri Attorney General Miranda Loesch claims the police department "did their job" at the time, KSDK reports.

Johnson's current hearing will most likely last all week and is being presided over by St. Louis Circuit Judge David Mason.

The hearing came about after lawyers used a new state law — inspired by Johnson's case — to counter the man's prior guilty verdict.

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