KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A conviction in the brutal 2008 murder of a Knoxville waitress has been overturned and a new trial has been ordered after a judge ruled errors by the defendant’s legal counsel denied him access to a fair trial.

In 2011, Micah Ross Johnson was convicted of first-degree murder, felony murder, especially aggravated kidnapping, and especially aggravated robbery in the death of 24-year-old Carrie Daugherty. The bartender/waitress at Barley’s Tap Room & Pizzeria was found beaten to death in the street outside her North Knoxville home in March 2008.

Evidence presented at the trial showed Daugherty was beaten over the head with a brick, mutilated with a shovel, and found with a rope tied around her neck.

The defense argued that Johnson was criminally insane and suffered from severe mental problems starting in 2006, alleging he’d been hearing voices speak to him. Johnson’s girlfriend, who had been Daugherty’s roommate, had also testified that Johnson had experienced a mental deterioration since he had been kicked out of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Psychologists were called to testify on behalf of both the defense and prosecution.

Johnson was sentenced to life in prison for the murder convictions and 25 years each for the kidnapping and robbery convictions.

The post-conviction court issued an order denying post-conviction relief on Feb. 26, 2019. An appeal of that decision found their findings of fact and conclusions were inadequate and remanded the case to the post-conviction court. The post-conviction court again denied relief on Feb. 22, 2021.

In a written opinion on behalf of a three-judge panel, Court of Criminal Appeals Judge James Curwood Witt Jr. agreed with Johnson’s new defense team, WATE legal analyst Greg Isaacs and J. Franklin Ammons, that Johnson’s previous counsel made multiple errors during the appeal process including failure to properly vet psychologist Dr. Keith Caruso to support the insanity defense and that failure to do so destroyed Caruso’s credibility and Johnson’s sole defense of insanity.

The case is now set to be heard again in Knoxville. It’s not clear at this time when a new trial might occur.