St. Louis prosecutor seeks to free man imprisoned 33 years for murder, citing evidence of innocence

May 15, 2023, 9:28 AM | Updated: 12:28 pm

Lamar Johnson, pictured at a law office in Clayton, Mo., on Friday, Feb. 17, 2023, is now free afte...

Lamar Johnson, pictured at a law office in Clayton, Mo., on Friday, Feb. 17, 2023, is now free after spending nearly 28 years in prison for the death of a St. Louis man. St. Louis' elected prosecutor is asking the court to set aside the conviction of a man imprisoned 33 years for a murder he has long claimed he didn't commit. Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner said Monday, May 15, 2023 that there is “clear and convincing evidence” that Christopher Dunn was not involved in the 1990 shooting death of Ricco Rogers. Gardner was successful in February in setting aside the conviction of Lamar Johnson. (AP Photo/ Jim Salter, file)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/ Jim Salter, file)

ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis’ top prosecutor has asked a court to set aside the conviction of a man who has spent 33 years in prison for a killing he says he didn’t commit, after witnesses who testified against him later said authorities had pressured them to lie.

In her request to overturn Christopher Dunn’s first-degree murder conviction, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner cited “clear and convincing evidence” that he had not been involved in the 1990 shooting death of Ricco Rogers.

“We are hopeful his wrongful conviction is set aside for the sake of Mr. Dunn, his family, and the people of the City of St. Louis,” Gardner said in a statement Monday.

Gardner filed a motion with St. Louis Circuit Court on Friday to vacate Dunn’s conviction. It wasn’t immediately clear if the state attorney general’s office would oppose the motion. A spokeswoman for Attorney General Andrew Bailey didn’t immediately respond to a Monday request for comment.

Gardner, a Democrat, succeeded in February in getting a court to set aside the conviction of another man, Lamar Johnson, who had spent nearly three decades in prison. Gardner took up his cause after an investigation her office conducted with help from the Innocence Project convinced her he was innocent in a 1994 killing. Johnson was convicted largely on the testimony of an eyewitness who later alleged that he had been coerced into his statements.

The overturning of Johnson’s conviction was a rare victory in a challenging year for Gardner, the city’s first Black prosecutor. She has been under fire for months from critics who contend that under her watch, too many cases, including homicides, have gone unpunished, that victims and their families are left uninformed, and that her office is too slow to take on cases brought by police. Bailey, a Republican who unsuccessfully sought to keep Johnson locked up, filed a court motion seeking her removal. Criticism escalated when recent cases had to be delayed because prosecutors from the understaffed office failed to show up in court.

Gardner said the attacks were politically and racially motivated. But she announced this month that she would resign effective June 1. Republican Gov. Mike Parson will appoint her replacement.

Dunn, 51, who is Black, was 18 when Rogers was killed. Among the key evidence used to convict him was testimony from two boys who were at the scene of the shooting. Both later recanted their testimony, saying they had been coerced by police and prosecutors.

A judge has heard Dunn’s innocence case before. At an evidentiary hearing in 2020, Judge William Hickle agreed that a jury would likely find Dunn not guilty based on new evidence. But Hickle declined to exonerate Dunn, citing a 2016 Missouri Supreme Court ruling that only death row inmates — not those like Dunn sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole — could make a “freestanding” claim of actual innocence.

Kevin Strickland, who served more than 40 years for a Kansas City triple killing. Johnson was the second inmate freed as a result of the new law.

Dunn’s attorneys at the Midwest Innocence Project say he should be the third.

“We are confident that when faced with such evidence, any Court will find, as Judge Hickle did nearly three years ago, that Christopher Dunn is innocent,” the group said in the news release.

United States News

Associated Press

Nebraska prison workers injured after attack by three inmates; all expected to survive

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Five staff members at a Nebraska prison were punched, kicked and stabbed with “manufactured weapons” when they were attacked by three inmates, the state’s Department of Correctional Services said. The injuries from the attack on Wednesday at the Reception and Treatment Center in Lincoln were severe but not life-threatening, the state […]

7 hours ago

FILE -The ARC Automotive manufacturing plant is seen, July 14, 2015 in Knoxville, Tenn. The Nationa...

Associated Press

US turns up pressure on air bag inflator company that refuses a recall despite deaths, injuries

DETROIT (AP) — The U.S. government is turning up the pressure on ARC Automotive to recall 67 million potentially dangerous air bag inflators by ordering the company to answer questions under oath and threatening fines if it doesn’t respond. NHTSA argues that the recall is justified because two people have been killed in the United […]

7 hours ago

This image released by Universal Picture shows filmmaker Christopher Nolan working with an IMAX cam...

Associated Press

Christopher Nolan breaks down the best ways to watch a movie, ahead of his ‘Oppenheimer’ release

It’s no secret that Christopher Nolan made “ big screen. But not all big screens are created equal. That’s part of the reason why Universal Pictures has made “Oppenheimer” tickets available early for over a thousand “premium large format” (or PLF) screens, with options including IMAX 70mm, 70mm, IMAX digital, 35mm, Dolby Cinema and more. […]

7 hours ago

FILE - An NYSE sign is seen on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange in New York, Wednesday, Jun...

Associated Press

Stock market today: Wall Street futures point higher on debt deal, but some tremors in retail

Wall Street moved modestly higher early Thursday after the United States House of Representatives approved a debt ceiling and budget cuts package, avoiding a default crisis. Futures for the Dow Jones industrials are flat before the bell and the S&P 500 rose 0.2%. The hard-fought compromise pleased few, but lawmakers assessed it was better than […]

7 hours ago

This photo provided by the chipmaker Nvidia shows the company’s HGX H100 module, which can use as...

Associated Press

AI chips are hot. Here’s what they are, what they’re for and why investors see gold

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The hottest thing in technology is an unprepossessing sliver of silicon closely related to the chips that power video game graphics. It’s an artificial intelligence chip, designed specifically to make building AI systems such as ChatGPT faster and cheaper. Such chips have suddenly taken center stage in what some experts consider […]

1 day ago

Natalie R. Coles, vice president & chief development officer at Wilberforce University, poses on th...

Associated Press

US companies, nudged by Black employees, have stepped up donations to HBCUs

Natalie Coles will never forget receiving an unexpected phone call in 2020. On the line was Virginia-based Dominion Energy, offering to give money to Wilberforce University, the small historically Black college where she is in charge of fundraising. The company’s $500,000 donation went in part toward laptops and hot spots for students when the pandemic […]

1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...

OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center

How to identify the symptoms of 3 common anxiety disorders

Living with an anxiety disorder can be debilitating and cause significant stress for those who suffer from the condition.

(Photo by Michael Matthey/picture alliance via Getty Images)...

Cox Communications

Valley Boys & Girls Club uses esports to help kids make healthy choices

KTAR’s Community Spotlight focuses on the Boys & Girls Club of the Valley and the work to incorporate esports into children's lives.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Company looking for oldest air conditioner and wants to reward homeowner with new one

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

St. Louis prosecutor seeks to free man imprisoned 33 years for murder, citing evidence of innocence