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Graffiti Inadmissible in Belleville Murder Trial

Writing on the wall carries no weight with the Illinois 5th District Appellate Court, according to a ruling issued last week that treats graffiti found in a holding cell as inadmissible in a Belleville murder trial. Prosecutors sought to present the daubing as a de facto admission of guilt in the case of Samuel Johnson, a St. Louis man accused of killing a hairdresser and two  elderly clients during a 2005 robbery. However, justices on the Mt. Vernon-based three-member panel sided with the presiding judge in the case that the scribbles are irrelevant to the proceedings.

Johnson was a prime suspect in the triple homicide but evaded charge for better than a decade, spending part of that time in a Missouri prison while a teen was acquitted of the stabbing deaths. Prosecutors revived the case and arrested Johnson in 2016. However, the battle that began during jury selection over what prosecutors labelled an attempt at witness tampering has stalled the trial for more than a year.