DETROIT (WJBK) - A man who has spent two decades behind bars will be getting a new trial. A judge ordered a new trial Monday for Lamarr Monson, who has been convicted in the 1996 murder of 12-year-old Christina Brown.
A judge agreed that new evidence has warranted a new trial. The fingerprint of a neighbor was discovered on a toilet bowl lid, which the medical examiner and the trial prosecutor both identified as the likely murder weapon.
In 1996 Monson's attorneys say he discovered Brown's bloody body in the apartment where they'd been dealing drugs. He called 911 - but quickly went from witness to suspect and was coerced, his attorneys say, into signing a false confession that he'd stabbed her to death.
"He was told basically sign this statement and we'll release you," said Dave Moran, director of the Michigan Innocence Clinic. "It was a trick. But the saving grace is that the statement that he signed doesn't match the crime scene."
It turns out Brown had been stabbed, but her death was actually caused by being bludgeoned with the top of the toilet tank.
A fingerprint analysis, conducted by the Detroit Police in 2015, proves that the previously unidentified fingerprint lifted from the murder weapon matches Robert Lewis, who was living in the building where Monson and Brown were selling drugs. Lewis was the same man who was identified as the murderer by a new witness who went to the Detroit Police and implicated him in 2012. That woman told police that Lewis murdered Brown when he went to get drugs from her.
Authorities say Brown was a runaway, and that she convinced her new neighbors that she was 17. She and Monson both sold drugs from one of the apartments.
FOX 2's Amy Lange was in the courtroom when the judge granted Monson a new trial. His trial is expected to begin April 24.
She'll have more on this case tonight on FOX 2 News beginning at 5 p.m.