Detroit inmate seeks new trial for 1996 murder of 12-year-old

A 12-year-old girl who was killed in 1996 was not stabbed to death, despite a signed confession. Could new evidence free the man convicted?

- For the past 19 years, Lamarr Monson has been sitting in prison for the murder of a 12-year-old girl. He was tried and convicted but he says he didn't commit the crime - and now he's got an ally on his side from the Innocence Clinic at the University of Michigan.

He was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to 30 to 50 years for the 1996 murder of 12-year-old Christina Brown. After years of pleading his innocence, new evidence has surfaced that is backing his story.

"It's been a long time coming - I've been fighting for a real long time I'm just glad to see some traction right now," Lamarr Monson said in a phone call on Monday.

Listen to the unedited conversation here:

App users, click here if you can't see the embedded audio clip.

On Monday, University of Michigan's Innocence Clinic clinic filed a motion for a new trial. Dave Moran with the Innocence Clinic says Monson and Brown - who said she was 17 - were dealing drugs out of an apartment on Boston Blvd.

On January 20, 1996, Monson found the girl's bloody body: she had been stabbed and beaten. He called 911 and then he was arrested.

"They concluded that she had been stabbed to death because they found a bloody knife at the scene," Moran said. "They immediately decided that this murder must have been committed by Mr. Monson (and) they took him into custody."

Monson went from witness to suspect and even gave police a signed confession.

"Mr. Monson allegedly claimed that he had stabbed Christina Brown to death; there was immediately a problem with that confession," Moran said. "Christina Brown was not stabbed to death. That's what police believed at the time. An autopsy that came out 12 days later on February 1, 1996, revealed that she had been beaten to death and her skull had been crushed."

She had been hit in the head with the ceramic top of a toilet tank. Moran says Monson was convicted solely on the coerced confession. The detective who got that confession eventually lost her job because of similar practices but Monson sat in prison with little hope of seeing the outside world again.

At least, until 2012.

"A woman walked into a Detroit police station and revealed that her then-boyfriend was the murderer of Christina Brown," Moran said.

That woman - who asked that her name not be revealed - lived upstairs with her boyfriend in the apartment building. The night Brown was killed, she said he went downstairs to buy drugs and came back covered in blood.

"He was covered in blood and revealed that he had, quote, 'killed the b***h because she had scratched him'," Moran said.

"That's when he had the blood on him and he said that she scratched me. He said he thinks he killed her. He had blood dripping off his fingernails. He had blood on his jacket, he had blood on his pants, he had blood on his shoes. He went to his borther's house and his brother told him to take his clothes off - everything but the jacket - he kept the jacket," the woman said.

The woman told her story in a signed affidavit, and even passed a polygraph. She said her then-boyfriend, Robert Lewis, went to his brother Raymond to dispose of his clothes.

"His brother told me he said he should have killed me too he had no business bringing me around there to that house," she told FOX 2's Amy Lange. "I know them. I know what they do. I know what they're capable of doing. I know what they've done in the past."

For that reason, she didn't come forward until she found out the Lewis brothers had moved out of state.

That, plus news from Detroit Police who tested a fingerprint found on the toilet tank. The results did not come back to Lamarr Monson.

"Sure enough, the thumbprint on the toilet tank matches the boyfriend. We're hoping that the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office will agree that Lamarr Monson should get a new trial and that they will seek justice for Christina Brown."

"I just want my opportunity to for my innocence to be declared. For my name to be cleared and for people to know the truth," Monson said.

The Lewis brothers both live in Pennsylvania now and FOX 2 was unable to speak with either one on Monday - however a private investiagor says Robert Lewis is very ill.

The Wayne County Prosecutor's Office says it is aware of the motion and will respond in court at the appropriate time.


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