Missouri Man Who Wrongfully Spent 6 Years in Prison Because Detective Had an Affair with Key Witness in Murder of White Man, Freed from Jail

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.

As reported by the St. Louis Dispatch, 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 in an SUV around 3:15 a.m. July 17, 2011, in south St. Louis.

Cambell was Sentenced to Life in Prison

Lamont Cambell and Lenny Gregory
Lamont Cambell in his mugshot (left) and Lenny J. Gregory Twitter

Cambell was 17 when the shooting happened. 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 other physical evidence. Prosecutors did not offer a motive.

However, 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.

Lead Detective Failed to Disclose Affair with Key Witness

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, Jeff Hyatt, and a key witness – the wife of the married couple, which called into question the witness' credibility.

Hyatt's ex-wife also testified that she learned in 2017 her husband was having an affair with one witness. Text messages showed the affair had been going on since at least July 2016, before Cambell's trial.

Other Evidence not Presented at Trial

Lamon Cambell
Lamon Cambell walking out of court a free man on Thursday. Twitter

Evidence of another perpetrator also was not presented at trial, court documents said: A neighbor saw multiple people fighting with Gregory on the night he died and identified a man who was a person of interest in another killing nearby. An analysis from the state crime lab matched two palm prints found at the scene to that person as well.

On Thursday, prosecutors opted not to seek a new trial and announced officials would begin the investigation into Gregory's death anew.