Jaw-dropping testimony in Lamar Johnson hearing includes confession from self-admitted killer

Lamar Johnson, left, and James Howard, right, at a court hearing on December 12, 2022.
Lamar Johnson, left, and James Howard, right, at a court hearing on December 12, 2022.(KMOV)
Published: Dec. 12, 2022 at 4:28 PM CST
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - A man named James Howard took the stand Monday afternoon confessing to the 1994 murder of Marcus Boyd. Howard was 17 years old at the time.

Howard explained he was one of two gunmen and gave details about what happened that night. That he and Phil Campbell wore black clothes and ski masks and brought guns to confront Boyd. The plan was to demand money, not murder Boyd.

“Heat of the moment things- shoot, things are tense, and things happen, man. And they happen fast,” Howard said.

Howard told the judge how he hid the gun under a pine tree and went home and washed the black clothing worn that night. He was worried about blood splatter on the clothing. He said he used regular laundry detergent and added a bit of bleach to the water.

He told the court he never thought Lamar Johnson would be convicted of the murder and stayed silent to protect himself.

“I didn’t think they would convict him, because [expletive]- he had nothing to do with it,” Howard said.

Howard is currently serving a life sentence convicted of other unrelated crimes including murder.

Witness recants

The only witness to the shooting, Gary Elking, told the judge he actually couldn’t identify the shooters from that night but felt pressured by police to identify Lamar Johnson.

Elking says he’s felt guilty ever since.

“I told them from the get-go, ‘No I never met Marcus’ friend… I didn’t know who the shooters were or even why it happened.’ All I know is I was freaked out. I just witnessed an execution,” Elking testified.

Elking says he was under the impression he could be charged with a crime if he didn’t cooperate with police.

Johnson was largely convicted based on that eyewitness testimony identifying him as one of the gunman despite the fact that the killers wore full face masks.

It’s just one aspect of the case drawing criticism from Johnson’s legal team and supporters.

Lamar Johnson has served 28 years and has always said he’s innocent. His case is back before the courts under a new law that allows Missouri prosecutors to review old convictions and bring them back before a judge.

Kevin Strickland, from Kansas City, is the first and only person to be freed under that law. Lamar Johnson could be the second person.