The only man charged in the 2010 disappearance and death of honor student Phylicia Barnes has been freed by a judge in Baltimore.
Michael Johnson was convicted of second degree murder and other charges in Barnes’ disappearance.
The body of the 16-year-old was found floating in a Maryland river in spring 2011. Authorities said she was found without clothes and with no “overt” signs of wounds or injuries.
The teen had been visiting her half-sister in Baltimore. She said she was going out to get something to eat and maybe a haircut when she left the residence.
About a year after her body was found, police arrested the half-sister’s ex-boyfriend.
Johnson was convicted of second degree murder in 2013. But his attorneys successfully argued that he should have a new trial because the prosecution withheld evidence, according to CNN affiliate WBAL.
Last month, the second trial ended in a mistrial, WBAL reported. Now, a judge has tossed out all charges against Johnson.
A defense attorney for Johnson told WBAL that the case has been “an absolute tragedy” for Barnes’ family and Johnson’s too. “Michael Johnson has maintained his innocence from day one, and this has been a crushing and horrible ordeal” Katy O’Donnell, a public defender, told WBAL.
But prosecutors say they’ll appeal. They tweeted out a statement saying there was no prosecutorial misconduct.