All charges dropped in Phylicia Barnes murder case

21 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Baltimore judge dismisses charges in NC teen’s death.

BALTIMORE (AP) — A man convicted of killing a North Carolina teenager and putting her body in the Susquehanna River was ordered freed Tuesday by a judge who dismissed all charges against him.A Baltimore judge has dismissed charges against the man accused in the late 2010 disappearance and death of 16-year-old Phylicia Barnes, setting free the only suspect in a case that drew national attention but has been criticized as flimsy. Baltimore Circuit Court Judge John Addison Howard dismissed second-degree murder and other charges against Michael Johnson, 30, saying the prosecution’s “arguably circumstantial” case against Johnson was insufficient evidence. The Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Marilyn Mosby tweeted via BaltimoreSAO, ” I want to be clear that there was no prosecutorial misconduct in this case.

We respectfully disagree with the Court’s decision today based on the fact that the defense waived their right to a ruling on a motion for judgment of acquittal.” “According to State v. The jury in his 2013 trial convicted him, but then the judge threw out the conviction, saying prosecutors did not disclose key information about a witness. App. 290, 294, 339 A.2d 697, 699 (1975) , the Court had no jurisdiction to grant the acquittal and we will be seeking an appeal on those grounds,” Mosby said in a state via Twitter.

Mullins, a retired city police officer, said her son’s acquittal was “wonderful news.” “We don’t have a motive,” Goldberg told Howard. “We don’t need a motive. … During both trials, prosecutors told jurors they believed Johnson had developed an inappropriate relationship with the teen, whom he called “lil’ sis.” They pointed to hundreds of text messages exchanged in the six months before her disappearance, though the content of the messages was never disclosed. At a party in June 2010, prosecutors said, he and the girl went streaking and then, along with Johnson’s younger brother and Phylicia’s half-sister Deena Barnes, went to a field where a fifth person filmed the four engaged in “naked touching.” That video was played for jurors at both trials, with prosecutors theorizing that it represented a turn in the brother-sister-like relationship. Johnson had said that on the morning of the girl’s disappearance, he had gone to Deena’s apartment to gather some belongings to move out, and later called out of work.

A neighbor said he saw Johnson struggling to move a plastic storage container out of the apartment, and prosecutors alleged that Phylicia’s body was inside. Cellphone records that trace his movements did not show him anywhere near the Susquehanna in Harford County, where the teen’s body was found in April 2011. Investigators tapped Johnson’s phone for two months, during which he discussed the case and speculated about police tactics, as well as fleeing the country.

Two months later, a petty thief named James McCray contacted police from a jail in Charles County and told them Johnson had called him for help the day of Phylicia Barnes’ disappearance, saying he had raped and strangled her. McCray had previously come forward as a witness in other high-profile cases across the region, and contacted Baltimore investigators with information only after Johnson had been charged. Nance ordered a new trial, saying that the state had to prove its case “not by speculation or assumption, but by evidence.” During the second trial, prosecutors played a wiretapped phone call between Johnson and one of his brothers.

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