Trial set for murder of Phylicia Barnes - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Trial set for murder of Phylicia Barnes

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

Michael Johnson, the man accused of murdering 16 year-old Phylicia Barnes may have a witness to testify on his behalf and help clear him of a first degree murder charge.

In a motion filed in Baltimore Circuit Court this December, defense attorneys for Johnson intend to call an "alibi witness" named Robert Hickman Fields when the case comes to trial in January.

In 2011 Johnson's attorney Russell Neverdon told WBTV News that police rushed the investigation and claims Johnson is innocent.

"Their theory has always been he was the last person to see her and therefore had to be culpable in her disappearance and untimely death," said Neverdon.  

Johnson was charged with murder April 25th in the high-profile disappearance of the Monroe teen.

Neverdon states that Fields saw Barnes, and not Johnson, days after she was reported missing.

But Baltimore police say they are certain Johnson, the ex boyfriend of Phylicia's older sister, committed the murder.

"Based on a complete and thorough investigation we believe that we've got the right guy," said Gregg Bernstein the Baltimore City State's Attorney.

Barnes disappeared December 28th 2010 while visiting her sister in Baltimore.

For months her family and friends clung to hope that she would return until her body was found the following spring in a Maryland River.

Phylicia's father Russell Barnes said the "were always going to search for justice."

"With the help of the community and the nation we will find justice."

Baltimore Police say Johnson was with Barnes before she died.

Johnson's trial is scheduled to begin January 28th.

The attorneys are also asking the court to have the Baltimore Police Department to turn over internal affairs records related to Daniel T. Nicholson IV, the lead detective in the case.

The day before Johnson was charged with murder, Nicholson was suspended by the agency.

Copyright 2012 WBTV. All rights reserved.

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