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A Detective’s Affair with an Eyewitness Landed an Innocent Man in Prison

A man who spent six years in prison for murder walked out of the city jail on Thursday moments after prosecutors dismissed charges against him, and weeks after a judge overturned his conviction.

A few alarming factors contributed to the false conviction, one of which included a scandalous romance between the lead homicide detective and a key witness

Lamont Cambell, 28, was found guilty in 2016 of first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the death of Lenny J. Gregory III. Gregory, the son of a retired St. Louis police officer, was found fatally shot around 3:15 a.m. July 17, 2011

But St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy J. Boyer ruled in December that Cambell’s attorney did not do enough to counter a weak case or explore an alternative suspect, and investigators failed to disclose a romantic relationship between the lead homicide detective and a key witness, which would have called into question the witness’ credibility, according to a December filing.

Cambell was 17 at the time of Gregory’s death. Prosecutors charged him in July 2011, and he maintained his innocence during an initial trial in 2013.

Jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict, so prosecutors tried again in 2016. Three witnesses, including a husband and wife who saw the killing, returned to testify.

Police still hadn’t found the .38-caliber murder weapon or any physical evidence. Prosecutors did not offer a motive.

A judge sentenced Cambell in January 2017 to life in prison with eligibility for parole after 30 years. In 2019, he filed a motion arguing his attorney was ineffective and the state violated his due process.

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Written by Aliyah Collins