(KMOV.com) – A man accused of murdering a 16-year-old Centreville girl in 1989 was acquitted Friday.
Carlos Garrett, 53, was acquitted by a jury Friday. Garrett was facing first degree murder charges and was accused of beating Nicole Willis to death.
Garrett, who was already serving in prison because of a drug conviction, was charged in connection with Willis’ murder in February, 2013. Authorities said Garrett’s DNA matched DNA found under Willis’ fingernails. Despite the new evidence, the jury was not convinced Garrett was the culprit.
“I’m just happy because we have waited a long time for this and I am so happy. It’s a relief for me, a big relief,” said Chanette Johnson, a relative of Garrett’s.
Even though Garrett was acquitted, St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly told News 4 he believes Garrett is the man behind the murder.
“Even when we have evidence like DNA evidence, there could be issues,” Kelly said. “Certainly the issues that we deal with some departments who have had reputations with issues with evidence retention, that's going to be a challenge that we have. We are going to fight, but sometimes we are fighting with one hand behind our back, but that doesn't mean we don't fight.”