Friday, December 5, 2008

Wrongful conviction in killing? Review is on

December 5, 2008

St. Louis Post-Dispatch-St. Louis, MO

A man imprisoned since 1994 for the murder of a southeast Missouri college student testified Wednesday he never saw the woman until he was given a copy of her obituary while he was in jail.

Joshua C. Kezer, 33, has maintained his innocence and contends that he was wrongly convicted. He is serving a 60-year prison sentence for second-degree murder and armed criminal action for the 1992 slaying of college student Angela Mischelle Lawless in Benton.

Cole County Judge Richard Callahan is considering whether there was enough evidence to justify Kezer's 1994 conviction in southeastern Missouri. He can order a new trial for Kezer, order him released or keep him prison.

Kezer, who broke down on the witness stand Wednesday when asked about the guilty verdict, said "it felt like the air got sucked out of the room" when the jury announced its decision.

"I didn't know what I had done that would make them want to do this to me," he said.

The case was one of several high-profile prosecutions led by Kenny Hulshof when he worked for the attorney general's office. Hulshof went on to serve six terms in the U.S. House and was the Republican nominee for governor this year, losing to Democratic Attorney General Jay Nixon.

No physical evidence tied Kezer to the crime.

Key prosecution evidence included the trial testimony of Mark Abbott, who claimed he saw Kezer near the Interstate 55 off-ramp where Lawless' body was found. However, in an interview with Scott City police 10 days after Lawless' death, Abbott had identified a different man as being near the crime scene.

Kezer's appellate attorneys say his original defense lawyer was not told about the police report. They also contend that Abbott — a federal inmate for the past decade in Wisconsin on drug convictions — has changed his account at least five times.

Kezer also was implicated by three Cape Girardeau County jail inmates, some of whom received deals for leniency on their own charges. One of those witnesses recanted and testified for the defense at Kezer's trial, while another told Kezer he made up his account, yet still testified for the prosecution.

On Wednesday, several witnesses called by Kezer's attorneys testified that Abbott and others told them that the wrong man was in prison.

The hearing will resume next week.


Anonymous said...

go to for update on J. Kezer

Anonymous said...

I just read about this and viewed the car as it may have been. I read a blog concerning a wishy-washy eyewitness that is now in prison himself which struck me strange, to say the least.

After seeing the car, it seemed as if someone may have walked up to the drivers side because the window was about 3/4 the way down. Judging from what appeared to be frost on the trunk of the car near her purse, I'd assume it was rather cold that night.

Why was her purse on the trunk? Did she need to get out and show ID? Had someone convinced her her car was damaged-maybe barely bumping her at the stop sign-and lured her to the back of the car?

Had someone jumped out and pretended to be hit, coming from the field area? Or, had someone turned on some flashing lights and convinced her she had a taillight out?

Assuming those rings on the ground are bangles-noting three in all, with one inside the car-two came off near the trunk. Was that where she refused to go?

It was written that the fight went into the grass. The person assumed more than one person was involved because, as I understood it, he didn't think one person could cart a 95 pound, 4'11" girl back up to the car. Hmmm.

The purse sitting on the trunk is what sticks out to me. That and the window being down. I wouldn't take my purse out if I thought I had a flat or needed to look at some paint scrape or something.

Just my opinion