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Defense Attorneys in Phylicia Barnes Murder Seek New Trial

Attorneys question state's key witness, jury's verdict.

Lawyers representing the man who was convicted of killing 16-year-old Phylicia Barnes are asking for a new trial, the Baltimore Sun reports. 

Attorneys for Michael Maurice Johnson say that the state made improper statements and withheld information about its main witness, James McCray, who testified that Johnson asked for help disposing of Barnes’ body.

According to the Sun, McCray gave the wrong date of the crime and the wrong floor for Johnson’s apartment, Prosecutors, however, said he did know details about the defendant that had not been released to the press, for example, that Johnson called Barnes “little sis.”

A jury took two days to convict Johnson of second-degree murder; he faces 30 years in prison. His attorneys, the Sun report, said that there was not enough evidence to warrant the verdict.

"The only evidence presented constituted a collaborative guess by multiple witnesses that the defendant was involved in the murder of Phylicia Barnes," Johnston’s attorneys wrote in a motion for a new trial, according to the Sun.

"The only actual connection between the defendant and the killing itself was one witness whose credibility falls well below that of which a reasonable person could believe was telling the truth."

Previous coverage of this case on Patch:

  • Jury Delivers Verdict in Phylicia Barnes Murder Trial
  • Police ID Second Body Pulled from Susquehanna
  • Investigation Into Death of Teen Moves to 'New Place'
  • Female Body Found in Susquehanna River Wednesday is Teen Missing from Baltimore
  • Police Still Searching for Missing 16-year-old

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