By Melanie Johnson
ST. LOUIS, Missouri (KMOV) — The case of Lamar Johnson is catching nationwide attention including people who were recently released from prison after being wrongfully convicted.
Johnson is facing murder charges for the second time accused of killing a man in 1994.
This week, Organization of Exonerees, traveled 500 miles from Michigan to St. Louis to be in the courtroom for the hearing. The group travels nationwide to meet with lawmakers to change the criminal justice system, stop shady investigations, and advocate for victims of wrongful convictions.
“We understand what it feels like to be where he is. We’re not in this courtroom because it’s fun. We’re not there because we like it. The last time I was in a courtroom I lost my life,” says exoneree, Kenneth Nixon.
Nixon served 16 years in a prison for double murder but was proven innocent of these crimes in February 2021.
“I was charged with 2 counts of felony murder, 4 counts of attempted murder and one count of arson,” he says. Similar to Lamar’s case, they uncovered documents in possession of police and prosecutors that pointed to my innocence.”
During Lamar Johnson’s hearing, more questions about mistaken identity, controversial witnesses and inconsistent testimony were brought to light.
“The seat that he’s sitting in is a very stressful seat to sit in, says exoneree, Marvin Cotton Jr. “He has the weight of the world on his shoulders. His life is on the line. He already lost it once. You don’t want to get your hopes up.”
Cotton was found not guilty of murder after serving 19 years behind bars. He was found innocent in 2020. Eric Anderson also of the Organization of Exonerees joined Cotton and Nixon in the courtroom for Lamar Johnson’s freedom.
Anderson spent 9 years in jail for a crime he did not commit and was let out 3 years ago.
“It is our job and our duty to help those in need no matter where you at,” says Anderson.
“We are proof that the system got it wrong but we are all living breathing proof that the system can get it right. We’re hoping the system gets it right with the Lamar Johnson case,” says Cotton.
“I know what it’s like to be in that seat that he’s in, says Nixon. We represent change. The narrative has to change.”
In Missouri, there is no compensation if someone is wrongfully convicted.
The Organization of Exonerees plan to come back to St. Louis once Lamar Johnson’s fate is decided.
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