CRIME

23-year-old found guilty in Missouri of exposing sex partner to HIV, endangering 4 others

FILE - In this Oct 10, 2013 file booking photo released by St. Charles County Department of Corrections show Michael L. Johnson, who faces felony HIV exposure charges. Jurors recommended a 30-year prison sentence Friday, May 15, 2015, for the 23-year-old man convicted of infecting another man with HIV and endangering four others with the disease while attending college in Missouri (St. Charles County Department of Corrections via AP)

FILE - In this Oct 10, 2013 file booking photo released by St. Charles County Department of Corrections show Michael L. Johnson, who faces felony HIV exposure charges. Jurors recommended a 30-year prison sentence Friday, May 15, 2015, for the 23-year-old man convicted of infecting another man with HIV and endangering four others with the disease while attending college in Missouri (St. Charles County Department of Corrections via AP)  (The Associated Press)

Jurors in Missouri have found a 23-year-old man guilty of infecting another man with HIV and endangering four others with the disease while attending college in suburban St. Louis.

Former Lindenwood University student Michael L. Johnson was convicted Thursday on one count of recklessly infecting another with HIV and four counts of recklessly risking infection of another with HIV, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported (http://bit.ly/1RMlPhe ). He was found not guilty on a sixth charge of exposing another man to the virus that causes AIDS.

Johnson, a former wrestler, had been expelled from the university in St. Charles and remained jailed since his arrest in 2013.

During closing arguments, Assistant Prosecutor Phil Groenweghe told the jury that Johnson knew he was HIV positive but lied to his sexual partners.

"What we have here is a perfect storm of malice," said Groenweghe.

Defense attorney Heather Donovan pointed to inconsistencies between testimony from Johnson's partners and their statements to police, saying that created reasonable doubt.

Earlier in the trial, prosecutors said that the former state high school wrestling champion from Indianapolis had tested positive for HIV two years before being diagnosed in Missouri.

But Johnson testified that he did not remember going to a clinic in Indiana for testing or getting a positive result.

Jurors deliberated for two hours and 20 minutes before returning the verdict.

Sentencing is Friday, where Johnson faces a maximum of life in prison, the newspaper reported.

Johnson's case has drawn the attention of gay rights activists and some legal reform groups. They say that laws in Missouri and dozens of other states criminalize a medical condition and deter those at risk of infection from seeking medical treatment.

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com