Wrongly convicted man files $75M lawsuit

Detroit – A man exonerated after spending more than two decades in prison for the slaying of a 12-year-old girl filed a $75 million lawsuit on Friday against the Detroit Police Department.

Lamarr Monson filed the federal court lawsuit six months after a Wayne County judge exonerated him in the slaying of Christina Brown. The girl was found dead with numerous stab wounds in an apartment in the 2700 block of West Boston Boulevard on Detroit’s west side in January 1996.

Monson, 46, was released from prison in February 2017 and granted a new trial after a bloody thumb print on what likely was the murder weapon was found to belong to someone else.

The 39-page lawsuit alleges Monson’s constitutional rights were violated, and that he was denied access to a lawyer and forced into signing a false confession while being illegally detained by Detroit Police.

Monson wants a judge to award compensatory and punitive damages that exceed $75 million. He sued Detroit Police and several officials, including former Chief Isaiah McKinnon and members of the homicide section.

A Detroit police spokeswoman could not be reached immediately Friday for comment.

In January 2017, Wayne County Circuit Judge Shannon Walker cited two factors in granting Monson a new trial: Monson may have been coerced into confessing to the murder of Brown, with whom he allegedly lived and sold drugs, and because a woman, Shellena Bentley, identified her former boyfriend as the real killer 15 years after Monson was convicted.

Brown was found dead with stab wounds in an apartment in the 2700 block of West Boston Boulevard on Detroit’s west side. Monson and the girl were allegedly living together in an apartment with no heat or water. Monson has said the girl told him she was 17.

An autopsy revealed the girl died from blunt force trauma. Monson, according to prosecutors, told police he was not at the apartment the night before and returned to find the girl covered in blood.

Monson later told police, in a second interview, that Brown attacked him in a jealous rage and he stabbed her in self-defense.

A knife found at the scene was not tested for DNA and was later lost in a Detroit Police Department property room. The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office said Friday that other key pieces of evidence found at the murder scene, such as male clothing, were not tested.

Other items that could have been used as evidence in the case were lost or destroyed, while some evidence, such as glass shards with blood on them, was never collected. Years after Monson’s conviction in 1997, some evidence in the case was retested.

A palm print and fingerprints found on a toilet tank lid were identified as belonging to Bentley’s former boyfriend.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said investigators went to Pittsburgh to identify Bentley’s former boyfriend, who is in poor health and denied any involvement in the child’s murder.

Oralandar Brand-Williams contributed


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