ST LOUIS (AP) – A Missouri judge on Tuesday overturned the conviction of a man who has served nearly 28 years of a life sentence for a killing that he has always said he didn’t commit.
Lamar Johnson, 50, closed his eyes and shook his head slightly as a member of his legal team patted him on the back when Circuit Judge David Mason issued his ruling. In coming to his decision, Mason explained that there had to be “reliable evidence of actual innocence – evidence so reliable that it actually passes the standard of clear and convincing”.
Johnson walked free after he was processed out at the courthouse. Beaming, he walked up to reporters in the courthouse lobby about two hours after the ruling and thanked everyone who worked on his case, as well as the judge.
“This is unbelievable,” said Johnson, who didn’t take any questions.
St Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, who filed a motion in August seeking Johnson’s release after an investigation her office conducted with help from the Innocence Project convinced her he was telling the truth, applauded the ruling.
“Lamar Johnson. Thank you. You’re free,” she said before the gathered press.
Gardner said this is a time for Johnson to spend with his attorneys and family.