Attorneys in Phylicia Barnes Murder Case Seek New Trial
After the teen's body was found in Harford County, attorneys chalked up evidence leading to a second-degree murder conviction as a 'collaborative guess.'
Attorneys for Michael Maurice Johnson, 29, say that the state made improper statements and withheld information about its main witness in the case which resulted in Johnson's conviction on second-degree murder charges.
The witness, who went by the alias of James McCray, reportedly testified that Johnson asked for help disposing of Barnes’ body; McCray, who was a convicted criminal doing time in jail, said he advised Johnson to throw the body in the water to erase any evidence that he and Barnes had sex, The Baltimore Sun reported.
The body of Barnes, who had been staying with her half-sister in Baltimore in December 2010, was found in the Susquehanna River in 2012.
Prosecutors, however, said McCray knew details about the defendant that had not been released to the press, for example, that Johnson called Barnes “little sis.”
A jury took two days to convict Johnson of second-degree murder; he faces 30 years in prison.
His attorneys said there was not enough evidence to warrant the verdict, according to The Sun, writing the following in a recent court filing: “The only evidence presented constituted a collaborative guess by multiple witnesses that the defendant was involved in the murder of Phylicia Barnes. The only actual connection between the defendant and the killing itself was one witness whose credibility falls well below that of which a reasonable person could believe was telling the truth."
- Jury Delivers Verdict in Phylicia Barnes Murder Trial
- Prosecutors Say Sex Video Shows Phylicia Barnes, Accused Murderer
- Former Boyfriend of Phylicia Barnes' Sister Indicted on Murder Charge
- Investigation into Death of Teen Moves to ‘New Place’
- Two Bodies Pulled from Susquehanna River
- Female Body Found in Susquehanna River is Missing Teen from Baltimore
- Police Still Searching for Missing 16-Year-Old
- Search for Missing Girl Brings Maryland Rescue Teams Together