January 31, 2023
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Monika Obradovic

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Bobby Bostick speaks at a rally in support of Lamar Johnson just 33 days after he was released from a life sentence.

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On Monday, Bobby Bostick hit the highway for the first time in nearly 30 years. He was heading to the Carnahan Courthouse in St. Louis. There, 27 years ago, he received 241 years in prison for a crime he committed at 16.

BUT newly passed law freed Bostic In November. Now he has a car, spends time with his family and experiences everything he dreamed of growing up in prison.

While he is grateful for all the trappings of his newfound freedom, he says his struggle is not over yet. But this time the fight is not his own.

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Bostick with about 20 activists and those exonerated yesterday gathered outside the Carnahan Courthouse in St. Louis to show solidarity with Lamar Johnson as Johnson’s fate hearing was played out inside.

Johnson, 49, was convicted in 1995 of the 1994 murder of Marcus Boyd. This week, St. Louis District Attorney Kim Gardner’s office will allege that two other men killed Boyd and a witness was forced to identify Johnson as Boyd’s killer. In court on Monday, one of the two defendants, James Howard, confessed to the murder of Boyd along with his accomplice Philip Campbell.

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Bostick says he believes “with his heart” that Johnson will be released. He and Johnson spent about 20 years together in the same prison and became good friends, Bostick says. They talked daily about their chance to get away – to live outside the “locked environment” of the prison, where everything is always the same.

“Just being here is surreal,” says Bostick. RFT on the steps of the Carnahan Courthouse. He points to the courthouse behind him. “Here it happened to me, here I lost my freedom 27 years ago.”

He adds: “Being here, trying to help him get out is surreal. I wouldn’t be anywhere else. He deserved it.”

click to enlarge "There are other innocent people in Missouri prisons who need support," says Michelle Smith, co-director of Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. "We need to understand that these things are systemic, they are institutional, and this is not just some kind of failure in the system." - Monika Obradovic

Monika Obradovic

“There are other innocent people in Missouri prisons who need support,” says Michelle Smith, co-director of Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. “We need to understand that these things are systemic, they are institutional, and this is not just some kind of failure in the system.”

Johnson’s wrongful conviction case is one of many, defenders say; but apart from the apparent lack of justice, Johnson’s character itself requires a fight for his release.

Those who know Johnson describe him as a sweet, soft-spoken man. Michelle Smith, co-director of Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, said he mentored younger inmates during his incarceration and helps care for prison hospice patients.

“Even before I looked at who he was in relation to it, Lamar could never do anything like that,” she says. “He is such a gentle and kind person.

Among those who spoke in favor of Johnson was Rodney Lincoln. Former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens commuted Lincoln’s sentence in 2018 after Lincoln, his daughter and the Midwest Innocence Project found exculpatory evidence in his case.

“First of all, Lamar is innocent,” Lincoln said to the crowd. “How do I know this? I know Lamar.

Lincoln and Johnson spent time together in prison and looked for a way out, Lincoln recalled.

click to enlarge Rodney Lincoln speaks in support of Lamar Johnson on Monday.  Former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens commuted two of Lincoln's life sentences in 2018.  — Monica Obradovic

Monika Obradovic

Rodney Lincoln speaks in support of Lamar Johnson on Monday. Former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens commuted two of Lincoln’s life sentences in 2018.

Upon release from prison, Lincoln skydiving. He wanted Johnson to share his experience somehow, so he wore a shirt that said, “This is for you, Lamar” as he fell freely to the ground.

Johnson’s former cellmates feel mild guilt as their friend continues to languish in jail.

According to him, it was painful for Bostic to leave Johnson. But Johnson is in a “good mood,” which amazes Bostic. He recalls how hard it was for him in prison, and he was not innocent, as Johnson believes. fight for your friend.

“When you get out of jail, you just want to get away and forget about it,” Bostic says. “Nose [Johnson]you can’t forget it because he’s still waiting.”

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