Updated: 4:30 p.m. CDT
ST. CHARLES, Mo. — A suburban St. Louis jury recommended decades in prison Friday for a 23-year-old man convicted of infecting another man with HIV and endangering four others with the disease while attending college in Missouri.
The St. Charles County jury suggested a 30-year prison term Friday for former Lindenwood University student and wrestler Michael L. Johnson on the most serious charge, which alleged he recklessly infected another with HIV, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Johnson’s other convictions Thursday of lesser charges – four counts of recklessly risking infection of another with HIV – could bring the potential prison term to more than 60 years, if the sentences are ordered to be served one after the other.
When the jury’s recommended sentences were read, Johnson – wearing a tan shirt and tie and grey slacks – showed no emotion. His sentencing hearing was scheduled for July 13.
Johnson, a college wrestler, was expelled from the university in St. Charles and has been jailed since his arrest in 2013. Prosecutors argued that Johnson knew he was HIV positive and lied to his sexual partners.
Article continues belowJohnson’s case has drawn the attention of gay rights activists and some legal reform groups. They argue that laws in Missouri and dozens of other states criminalize a medical condition and deter those at risk of infection from seeking treatment.
St. Charles County Prosecutor Tim Lohmar considered the jury’s sentencing recommendations appropriate, saying “our community definitely takes this very seriously and agrees with the Legislature that this should be criminalized as it was, and they responded accordingly with a significant sentence.”