Ex-LU wrestler convicted of HIV charges released from prison

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Ex-LU wrestler convicted of HIV charges released from prison

Photo from the Missouri Department of Corrections

Photo from the Missouri Department of Corrections

Photo from the Missouri Department of Corrections

Photo from the Missouri Department of Corrections

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MATT HAMPTON | News Editor

Former Lindenwood student Michael Johnson, 28, was released from prison last week, four years after he was originally given a 30-year sentence for hiding his HIV-positive status from his sexual partners.

In 2016, a Missouri appeals court overturned the conviction from Johnson’s May 2015 trial. He had been given the equivalent of a life sentence for transmitting HIV to one man and exposing four other men.  However, the court overturned the conviction because St. Charles County prosecutors presented evidence (tapes of calls Johnson made from jail) that the defense was not informed of until the first day of the trial.

In September 2017, Johnson took a deal to enter a no contest plea in exchange for a 10-year sentence, the mandatory minimum.  At the time of this plea, county prosecutor Tim Lohmar said that with parole guidelines and credit for time served, Johnson could be released “within months.”

Johnson, who attended Lindenwood on a wrestling scholarship starting in 2012, was incarcerated from when he was arrested on campus in 2013 until he left Boonville Correctional Center on Jul. 9, 2019.

The controversial trial led to nationwide discussion about the harshness of his original punishment and the effect of laws requiring HIV disclosure, such as Missouri’s, which was enacted in 1988 during the AIDS epidemic.