Lamar Johnson: Wrongfully convicted Missouri man walks daughter down the aisle after 28 years in prison
ST LOUIS, MISSOURI: Lamar Johnson, a Missouri man, who served nearly 30 years in prison, walked his youngest daughter down the aisle after the court announced he was wrongly convicted and overturned his conviction. In 1995, Johnson was found guilty of the murder of his friend, 25-year-old Markus Boyd, who was fatally shot by two gunmen on his porch in St Louis on October 30, 1994.
At the age of 21, Johnson was convicted of first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole after an eyewitness picked him from a lineup. Johnson had an alibi for the time of the killing as he spent the entire night of the shooting with his then-girlfriend, Erika Barrow. However, police never spoke to Barrow. Instead, they interviewed an eyewitness, James Gregory Elking, who was with Boyd that night and said two men attacked Boyd. Elking said that Boyd and he were talking when the men quickly went up the steps of the porch and shot him, according to the Sun.
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Was James Gregory Elking forced to pick Lamar Johnson?
"It was the most horrifying thing I had ever seen in my life. The third shot, I kind of seen Markus' soul just go,” Elking told 48 hours, as per CBS. However, after Johnson’s conviction, he eventually withdrew his claims, and two more individuals admitted to the crime, but it was not enough to overturn his life sentence. "The problem is, I don't know what else to do," Johnson told 48 Hours during a 2021 prison interview, adding, "I mean, what else is needed?" Elking acknowledged to the channel that he never truly believed Johnson was the killer but he felt pressured by investigators to pick someone.
Before picking Johnson, Elking was shown the line-up three times because he failed to identify him at first glance. "You didn't know at all, did you?" 48 Hours correspondent Erin Moriarty asked, to which Elking replied, "I didn't know,” adding that he was under pressure from detectives to name a person, and when he refused, they warned him that his life was in danger. He further claimed that investigators told him that Johnson was a violent man who may have been involved in as many as six other murders. "I lied on the testimony," he said, adding, "I lied because I thought I was doing the right thing." However, Joseph Nickerson, the case's lead detective, denied on oath that he forced Elking to identify Johnson.
Who murdered Markus Boyd?
Nearly 30 years after Johnson was found guilty, he was granted a hearing to prove his innocence in December 2022, and this time Elking testified in Johnson's favor. Elking said in court that he had lied while under oath and was unable to identify Johnson. As MEAWW reported earlier, a resident of Boyd's neighborhood testified that James Howard, who also went by the moniker BA, and his companion were the real murderers. Following the hearing, the court overturned Johnson’s conviction and exonerated him on February 14.
After his release, Johnson started a new life and walked his youngest daughter, Kiera, down the aisle during her wedding on April 21. Kiera, whom Johnson shares with Barrow, was just five months old when he was sentenced to life. "I think that just despite everything that he has experienced, who he is and who he shows up as it is just — it's remarkable," Barrow told 48 Hours. Johnson also told the outlet that he considers himself a blessed man, stating, “It was like a weight had just come off of me. Just the vindication, just that somebody had finally heard me."