The state's theory stretched the physical limits of the human body. Somehow, on the night of Oct. 30, 1994, Lamar Johnson left his friend's apartment, traveled three miles to Marcus Boyd's front porch with one other man, killed Boyd, fled on foot and arrived back at the apartment to continue socializing with friends - all in "no more than five minutes."
Now the St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office says it knows how prosecutors managed to convince a jury it was true: Police and prosecutors made up the evidence, according to a 67-page motion seeking to vacate Johnson's first-degree murder conviction and grant him a new trial after 24 years behind bars.
The accompanying investigative report, made public this week, describes a staggering amount of misconduct on the part of homicide detectives and prosecutors that convicted Johnson and sent him to prison for life with no possibility of parole.
Not only did detectives write police reports containing invented statements from witnesses, the report found, but the St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office also made secret payments to the single eyewitness, who was pressured into making the false identification that would ultimately seal Johnson's fate, according to the report.
And authorities did all of this, investigators found, in the face of "overwhelming" evidence that Johnson was an innocent man. He has insisted on his innocence the entire time he has been behind bars.
"The violation of Johnson's constitutional rights enabled the State of Missouri to obtain a conviction and sentence of life without the possibility of parole against Johnson despite overwhelming evidence of innocence," the circuit attorney's office wrote. "The undisclosed secret payments to the sole eyewitness in a case that was undeniably thin fatally undermines the reliability of the verdict."