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Innocence clinic says new evidence points to different killer in 1996 case

Sep 26, 2016

A Detroit man imprisoned for a brutal killing in 1996 is fighting for a new trial this week.

Lamarr Monson was convicted of murdering a 12-year-old girl, Christina Brown, who may have been his girlfriend and allegedly sold drugs with him. He confessed, but later said police coerced him.

Last year, attorneys with the University of Michigan’s Innocence Clinic petitioned the court to give Monson a new hearing, citing new evidence. A few years before, a woman who’d been Monson’s neighbor came forward, saying her boyfriend at the time of the murder had confessed to killing Brown: he’d gone to buy drugs from the victim, he told her; Brown had “scratched him,” they fought, and he killed her.

The woman hadn’t come forward for years, she told police, because he’d threatened to kill her.

What’s more, Innocence Clinic attorneys said a fingerprint taken from the likely murder weapon (a toilet tank in Monson’s apartment) matched the woman’s boyfriend.

But the Wayne County prosecutor’s office pushed back. The trial judge had already ruled Monson’s claim of coerced confession wasn’t credible, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney David McCreedy agued. And just because the second man’s fingerprint was on the toilet lid, doesn’t mean he killed her – he could have left that print any other time. Furthermore, McCreedy argues, it’s not clear if the toilet tank is the only murder weapon, since she also had multiple stab wounds.

Recently, Monson’s attorneys say they’ve discovered still more evidence: Upon further examination of the toilet tank lid (which was kept in police evidence all these years) they found yet another fingerprint: this one in blood.

The print isn’t complete enough to match to the alternate suspect, but it does rule out Lamarr Monson, his attorneys say: the print has “whorl pattern which Mr. Monson’s prints do not have.”

The prosecuting attorney did not return a request for comment.

Monson’s team will appear in court on Tuesday for a post-conviction hearing, several of which have been held in recent months.