A St. Louis man convicted of murder in 2016 is now a free man after prosecutors dropped the charge.
Lamont Cambell walked out of the St. Louis City Justice Center on Jan. 19. St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Boyer overturned his conviction back in December after ruling that Cambell had ineffective representation. The judge also ruled that the prosecutors failed to disclose that the case’s lead investigator had been having an affair with one of the witnesses who identified Cambell.
Cambell was found guilty of the 2011 death of 29-year-old Lenny J. Gregory III. Gregory was found shot to death while sitting in his car on the 2800 block of Chariton Street in south St. Louis. Cambell was just 17 at the time and claimed his innocence. After jurors failed to come to a unanimous verdict at his trial in 2013, prosecutors retried Cambell in 2016.
Cambell was convicted at his second trial and sentenced to life in prison with the eligibility for parole after 30 years. Three witnesses, two of whom are husband and wife, claimed that Cambell was the shooter and that he had attempted to rob Gregory, the son of a retired police officer. Gregory was shot in the arm and the head.
However, the murder weapon, a .38-caliber, was never found. There was also no other physical evidence found against Cambell.
Boyer was prepared to set a new trial date, but instead, the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s office dismissed the charges against Cambell. The prosecutors also announced they would be conducting a new investigation into the death of Gregory.
The dismissal came as a surprise after Assistant Circuit Attorney Marvin Teer asked the judge to give him until the day’s end to propose a new trial date in April. Teer appeared to leave the courtroom to take a phone call, and when he returned a few moments later, he announced that the charges against Cambell had been dismissed.
The office of St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner released a statement noting the investigation must be restarted and asked the community for any information they may have pertaining to the investigation.
“The investigation must be restarted to hold the perpetrator accountable for the crime committed,” read the statement in part. “In every case, the Circuit Attorney’s Office is dedicated to ensuring that it carries out its duty to prosecute criminal cases in a manner that is fair and seeks justice on behalf of the residents of the City of St. Louis. At this time, we ask the general public to provide any information that will assist in the investigation of this crime.”
Despite Cambell’s conviction being overturned, the victim’s family was not happy that he was released and reportedly got into a heated discussion with Teer about the case. Teer said he isn’t convinced that Cambell is guilty and reportedly said so to Gregory’s family.
“I’m not convinced he did it and as far as I’m concerned, one day in jail is too many if he didn’t do it,” Teer told the family.
Cambell told reporters outside the courtroom, “I’m just happy to be out.”
Gardner updated the family on Jan. 18 and told them the investigation was being given back to the police department to investigate. Gregory’s aunt Christine Tierney told the judge in court that the family has been blindsided by Cambell’s conviction being overturned.
“We have been blindsided by all of this,” said Tierney. “We want the right person in jail for this, but they didn’t tell us anything. They failed us. It wasn’t until we called and harassed them that they finally agreed to meet with us less than 24 hours before this hearing. A family shouldn’t have to go through this.”
Tierney also said that “it would be an injustice” to the family to let Cambell out of prison.
“We didn’t have a chance to talk to the prosecutor to tell him how we felt,” she said. “We want justice for Lenny, and we do want the correct person in prison. We just feel it would be an injustice to the family to let Cambell out.”