Justly Johnson was 24 years old when he was arrested for the murder of Lisa Kindred and unless he is successful on appeal, he will spend the rest of his life in prison.
Johnson was convicted primarily on the testimony of two witnesses, Antonio Burnette and Raymond Jackson. Both witnesses repeatedly contradicted themselves and have since recanted their stories. Police never produced any witnesses to put Johnson at the murder scene around the time the fatal shot was fired.
Johnson has a prior conviction for dealing drugs in 1977. When I met with him in prison, Johnson admitted he indeed had been selling crack cocaine. He said he had straightened himself out by the time of the Kindred murder. Johnson said he had a job and was living in an apartment with his girlfriend. When police searched that apartment the day after the murder they found no drugs, no guns, and no evidence relating to the murder of Lisa Kindred. They also searched Justly Johnson's mother's house and came up empty handed.
Johnson's story has been consistent since the day he was arrested.
Kendrick Scott, the second man serving life with no parole for Lisa Kindred's murder was 20 years old at the time of the killing. He was convicted primarily on the testimony of the same two witnesses.
But there is more circumstantial evidence pointing to Scott's involvement. He was placed at the scene by his own statement and statements of other witnesses just before and right after the murder happened.
In addition, Scott made some suspicious comments to several people at the crime scene, according to retired homicide detective Mike Carlisle. He told his girlfriend just before the shooting that he saw two men outside and one of them had a rifle. His girlfriend told police she looked outside and saw the men but did not see a gun. After the murder, Scott told a number of people he had seen two men running down an alley and one of them had a rifle. Carlisle told Action News Investigators this is classic behavior of someone trying to set up an alibi and divert attention from himself.
The Michigan Innocence Project has been contacted by Kendrick Scott but has not taken on his case.
Here is the statement of the witness who Scott told about the men with a rifle: