BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The man accused of killing a North Carolina teen who was in Baltimore visiting her half sister in December 2010 can be tried again, Maryland’s highest court ruled Wednesday.
Phylicia Barnes’s body was found in the Susquehanna River months after she disappeared.
Michael Maurice Johnson was convicted of second-degree murder in 2013. But he was granted a new trial after a judge ruled prosecutors withheld evidence.
In December 2014, Circuit Judge John Addison Howard declared a mistrial in the second trial.
In June 2016, The Maryland Court of Special Appeals ruled that a new trial could proceed.
Johnson appealed the case to the state’s highest court, which heard arguments in December, but both courts determined Judge Howard was wrong to acquit Johnson after granting the mistrial, The Baltimore Sun reports.
Prosecutors believe Johnson — who dated Barnes’ sister — raped the teen, strangled her, put her body in a large plastic container and threw it in the water.
Johnson has maintained his innocence in Barnes’ death.
Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby released the following statement:
“We are pleased that the highest court of Maryland confirmed our legal right to retry Michael Johnson for the murder of Phylicia Barnes. This unanimous decision further validates our unwavering pursuit of justice on behalf of Phylicia Barnes and her ones.”