The defense in Gary Black's retrial for the Oct. 2, 1998, murder of Missouri Southern State College student Jason Johnson, will attempt to show that a key witness lied during the first trial.
Black was on death row before the Missouri Supreme Court tossed out his conviction and ordered a new trial. In documents filed Feb. 14 in Jasper County Circuit Court, Black's lawyer, Susan McCarthy Elliott, said she intended to impeach Tammy Lawson with prior incidents of false police reporting and also intends to bring the woman's mental health history and substance abuse into the trial. Briefs backing up her request were also filed at that time.
Judge Jon Dermott already rejected Ms. Elliott's request for access to Missouri Division of Social Services records concerning Ms. Lawson. Ms. Elliott has asked the judge to reconsider that decision.
It was Ms. Lawson who set in motion the chain of events that led to Mr. Johnson's death, according to testimony given at Black's first trial. She reported that Johnson, a black man, had made a perverted remark to her while they were standing in line at a convenience store. Authorities said Black then chased down Johnson and killed him, in what was described as a "racially-motivated" killing.
More information about the case can be found during an Aug. 18, 2004 Turner Report post, which was made when the Supreme Court was considering the Black appeal.
The Black retrial is scheduled to begin Monday, March 20.