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College wrestler sentenced to 30 years for ‘recklessly’ transmitting HIV gets new trial

Michael Johnson tested positive for HIV in January 2013
Photo: Instagram – Michael Johnson tested positive for HIV in January 2013.

An HIV-positive college wrestler sentenced to three decades in prison for infecting other men is getting a new trial.

An appeals court in Missouri found that recordings of phone calls made by Michael L. Johnson while he was in jail awaiting trial should not have been allowed to be used in the case, according to the Associated Press.

Johnson was convicted in May 2015 of infecting another man with HIV and endangering four others with the disease while a student at Lindenwood University.

Johnson’s attorneys were not made aware of the recordings until the first day of the trial in St. Charles County.

His attorneys successfully argued to the appeals court that the trial court abused its discretion by allowing the recordings to be used as evidence.

Johnson, 24, tested positive for HIV in January 2013.

But he continued to have unprotected sex with men he met on hookup apps. He was arrested in October that year after a partner who contracted the virus from him went to the police.

Judge Jon Cunningham told Johnson on the day of sentencing that he had committed ‘very severe’ crimes.

‘The main thing is the profound effect your actions have had on the victims and their families,’ the judge had said.

Johnson did not apologize but said in a statement: ‘I never want anyone to have to go through the pain’ of having HIV.

Missouri is one of 33 states that have HIV criminalization laws, which AIDS activists have slammed for being outdated and unfairly targeting black men.

 

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