New evidence, suspect in 1996 murder could mean new trial for Lamarr Monson

He has spent two decades behind bars convicted of murdering a little girl in a crime he says he did not commit.

Last year new evidence was discovered and a new potential suspect identified.

Lamarr Monson waved to his mother on his way into court Tuesday. It is the hearing he's been waiting for - the one to determine if he will be granted a new trial.

Monson and attorneys with the University of Michigan Innocence Clinic say he's been in prison for 20 years for a crime he did not commit - the murder of 12-year-old Christina Brown in January of 1996.

"To have a son have to go to prison for something he did not do, I think our judicial system has failed," said Delores Monson, his mother. "Not just me but a whole lot of other people. Why does it take so long for them to get around to doing what's right."

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 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 was stabbed, but her death was actually caused by being bludgeoned with the top of the toilet tank.

Now a latent fingerprint on the lid has been matched to another neighbor at that time - a man named Robert Lewis.

And now testimony of a bloody print recently discovered on the lid, rules out Monson - but could be tied to Lewis.

And, Lewis' girlfriend at the time told police back in 2012 that Lewis killed Christina Brown when Lewis went to get drugs from her.

Shellena Bentley says he threatened to kill her if she told.

"When he came back he had blood on him,- he had blood, it was dripping off his fingernails," Bentley said. "And he said we got to get out of here. He said 'That (expletive) scratched me.' He had so much blood that was coming off his fingernails it was dropping on the floor - I'll never forget that."

Lewis has not been charged in this crime and could not be reached for comment - but it's all of this evidence that has Monson's attorneys asking Judge Shannon Walker - for a new trial.

"If a new trial is ordered, we certainly will be asking for bond right away," Moran said.

Lamarr Monson's mother has set a place for him every Thanksgiving and hopes he'll be there in person this year.

"What's the hold up," she said. "Lamar has been incarcerated 20 years, nine months and seven and days," she said. "I'm hoping he'll be home for thanksgiving this year - I really am."

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