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Mistrial declared in teen visitor’s death

A mistrial has been declared in the second prosecution of Michael Johnson on charges of murdering Phylicia Barnes, a teenager who went missing while visiting family in Baltimore in 2010.

Baltimore City Circuit Judge John Addison Howard declared the mistrial Monday after finding that tapes played for the jurors contained inadmissible evidence, according to reports in the Baltimore Sun and elsewhere. Johnson’s first trial, in 2012, resulted in a second-degree murder conviction, but the judge in that trial found the prosecution had withheld information about a witness that could have affected jurors’ assessment of his credibility.

Johnson had long been the boyfriend of Barnes’ half-sister, with whom the North Carolina teen was staying when she disappeared in December 2010. Barnes’ body was discovered about four months later in the Susquehanna River near the Conowingo Dam.

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