Witness who helped convict man: Testimony still “haunts” him

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A key witness whose testimony helped convict a man of murder and sent him to prison 28 years ago testified Tuesday that his role in the Lamar Johnson case “still haunts” him .

Johnson has maintained from the start that he had nothing to do with the 1994 killing of Marcus Boyd, who was allegedly killed over a $40 drug debt. St. Louis District Attorney Kim Gardner believes Johnson. shesubmitted an application in Augustattempts to have his murder conviction overturned.

The Missouri Attorney General argues that the evidence still points to Johnson as the killer. Judge David Mason is leading the hearing on whether to vacate the conviction, which is expected to last all week.

Boyd was shot dead on October 30, 1994 on the porch of his home by two men wearing ski masks. Johnson was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. A second suspect, Phil Campbell, pleaded guilty to a reduced charge in exchange for a seven-year sentence. Campbell has since passed away.

James Gregory Elking, the witness, told Mason that he was at Boyd’s house trying to buy drugs when the shooting took place. Elking testified that he could not say who the masked men were, as he initially told police. He said he was asked to look at a lineup and then forced by detectives to name Johnson as one of the shooters.

“I’m just saying I felt pressured, I felt bullied,” Elking said Tuesday.

“It’s haunting me,” he added.

After Johnson’s conviction, Campbell and another man, James Howard, said Johnson had nothing to do with the murder. An investigation by Gardner’s office revealed alleged misconduct by the police and prosecutors.

Lead detective, Joseph Nickerson, denied Gardner’s claims and told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he still believes Johnson was one of the killers.

Elking testified that when Nickerson was initially unable to name anyone from the lineup as a shooter, he said to him, “I know you know who it is,” urging him to “help get these guys off the streets.” to fetch”.

Elking felt pressured and wanted to help the police. He said if investigators told him who they suspected, he would identify them as the shooters. He said the police also provided him with money over the next few months. Gardner’s office said Elking received at least $4,000.

Howard, 46, is serving a life sentence for an unrelated murder and nearly a dozen other crimes committed in 1997. He was handcuffed Monday as he testified that he and Campbell killed Boyd when they tried to rob him because Boyd owed drug money to one of their friends.

Howard said Campbell shot Boyd in the side while Howard shot him in the back of the head and neck. He said they didn’t shoot Elking because they believed he couldn’t identify them.

“Was Lamar Johnson there?” Potts asked.

“No,” Howard replied.

Howard said his guilt in Johnson’s conviction prompted him to first come forward two decades ago to try to help Johnson get his release.

“I was trying to right the wrong I did to him,” Howard said.

The Assistant Attorneys General cross-examined inconsistencies in the testimonies of the witnesses. Among them: Elking now says the shooters calmly walked away after the shooting, but in a 1995 statement he said they ran away. Howard now says Campbell only stayed at his home shortly after the shooting, but said in a previous affidavit he stayed three days.

Howard admitted he couldn’t remember every detail from 28 years ago.

“What I can tell you is that I shot him,” he said.

Also on Tuesday, Anthony Box, a former district attorney’s office investigator, said an investigation found a “binder full of information” showing payments to Elking were made through a witness protection fund. Attorneys working on Johnson’s behalf said those payments totaled at least $4,000.

In March 2021 theThe Missouri Supreme Court denied Johnson’s requestfor a new trial after Schmitt’s office successfully argued that Gardner did not have the authority to seek one so many years after the case was decided.

The case led to the passage of state law making it easier for prosecutors to get new hearings in cases where there is new evidence of a wrongful conviction. That law freed another longtime inmate, Kevin Strickland, last year. He had served more than 40 years for a triple homicide in Kansas City.

https://fox2now.com/news/missouri/witness-who-helped-convict-man-testimony-still-haunts-him/ Witness who helped convict man: Testimony still “haunts” him

Sarah Y. Kim

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