Rally: Court hearings to seek justice for wrongfully imprisoned Lamar Johnson

About 50 people holding signs in support of Johnson braved the cold weather on the steps of the court building.

Walter Pritchard

Supporters of Lamar Johnson seeking his freedom from being wrongfully imprisoned, rallied Monday outside the St. Louis Circuit Court during the first day of weeklong scheduled hearings.

Johnson, who recently celebrated his 49th birthday, has spent 28 years in prison for murder that evidence proves he didn’t do. Johnson was convicted in 1995 for the killing of Marcus Boyd. He was sentenced to life in prison.

About 50 people holding signs in support of Johnson braved the cold weather on the steps of the court building.

“Lamar Johnson is innocent, and he deserves to come home. We’re also here today to show support for him and his family,” said Michelle Smith, co-director of Missourian For Alternatives to the Death Penalty and founder of the Missouri Justice Coalition. Smith and her organizations focus persons wrongly convicted.

Circumstantial evidence led to Jackson’s conviction after a witness identified Johnson and another man as the killers, but later recanted his story. St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner is working to prove Jackson’s innocence of the murder and wrongful conviction.

Last year, the Missouri Senate passed a bill that resulted in a new state law that affords prosecutors to file motions to reopen cases. This is why Johnson is having a hearing this week, Dec 12th-16th .

“We’re thankful for Gardner’s office taking this step and for Judge (David C.) Mason for scheduling this hearing this week,” Smith said.

Smith said prisons are for people who have committed crimes and they should be rightly convicted and put incarcerated. Jackson is not one of them, she said

“I call this rally ‘Innocence Is ALL.’ Innocence liberty is everything,” she said. “But people like Lamar who are innocent should not be in penal institutions. So, innocence is literally everything and that is why we are here today to proclaim with a loud voice and let our community know that we all need to stand when a person is wrongly convicted and innocent, and unjustly incarcerated.”

One of the supporters, Bobby Bostic, recently got out of prison 30 days ago after 27 years for a crime he said he was guilty of committing. He said he spent 20 years of his sentence in the same prison with Johnson. He described Johnson as “kind hearted human being who we know to be innocent and to be in prison is a hard thing.”

“For me it was hard, and I was guilty, and I fought all I could to get out,” Bostic said. “But he was innocent. It is hard for him to wake up every day in that negative environment. Having said all that, he has the most positive attitude I’ve ever known of all the inmates, including me.”

The Rev. Darryl Gray, associate justice coordinator for the Missouri Missionary State Convention, voiced his good feelings about Jackson’s release.

“I am optimistic that Lamar will be set free because the evidence bears witness,” Gray said. “Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner has done an outstanding job in bringing this evidence forward. I’m looking forward to her presenting the case. I’m hopeful that this judge will see justice and see that an innocent man has been in prison for far too long.”




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