St. Louis County reaches settlement in 1996 murder case

St. Louis County will pay $6.6 million to a man who was released from prison last year after his murder sentence was vacated because of prosecutorial misconduct

ST. LOUIS -- A man who was released from prison last year after the Missouri Supreme Court vacated his life sentence for murder has reached a $6.6. million settlement with St. Louis County.

St. Louis County officials began the process of issuing the money on Friday to Lawrence Callanan, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

Callanan was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted in the 1996 murder of John Schuh in St. Louis County.

A special master appointed by the Missouri Supreme Court to study the case, Judge Gael D. Wood, didn’t determine that Callanan met the legal standard for proving his “actual innocence” but said the verdict was “not worthy of confidence.”

In releasing him last June, the state Supreme Court said the prosecutor in the case, Dan Diemer, withheld evidence during the trial that would have been favorable to the defense.

That ruling came after Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell wrote the court supporting Callanan. He told the court that the conviction rested on circumstantial evidence based on the testimony of one witness.

That witness told Diemer she saw two cars leaving the scene of the killing but Diemer told her not to tell anybody about the second car and did not disclose the evidence to the defense, Bell wrote.

Chief Justice George W. Draper III wrote for the court in last year's ruling that Callanan met the burden of proof to establish his claim that prosecutors concealed favorable, material evidence, in violation of a federal law that requires prosecutors to turn over all evidence that might exonerate a defendant to his or her attorneys.

Callanan is the son of two generations of union officials, who were suspected of having organized crime ties. Callanan said prosecutors targeted him because of “events that took place before I was born.”

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