BREAKING: Judge Issues Findings in Reggie Clemons Case

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Judge Michael Manners, the Special Master reviewing the case of Reggie Clemons, has submitted his findings to the Missouri Supreme Court.

He finds that prosecutors suppressed evidence (a “Brady violation”) and writes that he believes the statement Reggie Clemons gave to police was coerced. He also writes that he does not believe that Clemons has established a “gateway claim of actual innocence.” It is a complex case, and serious allegations of misconduct by prosecutors and police appear to have been affirmed.

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A Mother Speaks: “I Don’t Want To Lose My Son to the Death Penalty”

Vera Thomas

Vera Thomas

By Vera Thomas, Reggie Clemons’ Mother

When my son was young, he would say, “When I grow up I want to invent things.” Reggie as a young boy was always a people person. Almost 30 years later, he sits on death row, and I’m waiting to see whether or not the state of Missouri will take my son’s life. This is a parent’s worst nightmare.

My son’s name is Reginald Clemons, but we call him Reggie. He has been on Missouri’s death row for 21 years. No mother can truly imagine that there may come a day where she may have to watch her son take his last breath, listen to his last words and watch him executed. Last year, Reggie was granted an opportunity where his case would be reviewed by a judge who would then recommend to the Missouri Supreme Court whether or not my son should live or die. As we await the judge’s recommendations – expected to be announced by June 1st – I want you to understand a few things about my son, his case and just how flawed the death penalty system is.

Then I hope you will take action to stop Reggie’s execution and join the movement to abolish the death penalty in the state of Missouri and beyond.

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Rushing To Judgment

Kharey Wise was wrongfully convicted of beating and raping a female jogger in Central Park in 1989 and spent 15 years in prison. He was released when the real assailant confessed to the crime (Photo Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images).

Kharey Wise was wrongfully convicted of beating and raping a female jogger in Central Park in 1989 and spent 15 years in prison. He was released when the real assailant confessed to the crime (Photo Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images).

For many who remember the terrible crime, the huge outcry and the media circus around the 1989 “Central Park Jogger” case, which was BIG national news, it may have come as a surprise to learn that all 5 of the teenagers convicted were in fact innocent.

But it probably shouldn’t have.

The film The Central Park Five, recently premiered on PBS, offers an important cautionary tale about how a rush to judgment, fueled by all-in media coverage of a particularly heinous crime, increases the chances that criminal justice officials will make critical mistakes, or engage in deliberate misconduct. The Reggie Clemons case, tainted by allegations of police abuse during the investigation and prosecutorial misconduct during the trial, is a reminder that a process compromised in this way can result in a death sentence.

At the other end of the spectrum, a rush to judgment can occur when there is a callous indifference on the part of authorities toward a crime they may perceive as less important because it was committed in a marginalized community. That’s what seems to have happened in the Carlos De Luna case, where an almost certainly innocent man was put to death for a crime another man named Carlos probably committed.

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More Evidence of Misconduct In Reggie Clemons Case

Reggie Clemons

New evidence has emerged reinforcing the contention that Reggie Clemons’ trial was marred by misconduct; a judge’s recommendations are expected by June 1 (Photo Credit: Color of Justice).

On March 18, the final oral arguments in the “Special Master” investigation of Reggie Clemons‘ case were held in Independence, Missouri. Reggie Clemons was sentenced to death in 1993 after a disturbingly flawed investigation and trial.

At the Clemons hearing before Special Master Judge Michael Manners last September, evidence of police brutality and prosecutorial misconduct in his case was presented, and this month that evidence was reinforced by new testimony of a bail investigator named Warren Weeks.

In a video-taped deposition, Weeks said that he saw evidence that Clemons had been brutalized – a golf-ball sized bump on his head – and that he submitted a written report of this observation. Weeks testified that prosecutor Nels Moss attempted to intimidate him about the report. The report obtained by Clemons’ current attorneys and presented to Judge Manners had the word “bump” or “bruise” scratched out.

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Reggie Clemons Hearing: More To Come

reggie clemons hearing st. louis missouri

Amnesty team waiting to enter the Reggie Clemons hearing, Sept 17, 2012

The Special Master hearing to review the Reggie Clemons case was halted on Thursday, but with more testimony and legal filings to come. In fact, the Special Master process looks to continue well into next year.  Given what’s at stake, and given the troubling nature of the case, taking more time is not a bad thing.

The allegations of police brutality and prosecutorial misconduct which feature prominently in Amnesty International’s report on the case were highlighted during the hearing. The alleged police abuse of Clemons, and the similar abuse of the state’s star witness Tom Cummins – acknowledged by a $150,000 settlement – are particularly disturbing and call into question the fairness of the investigation and prosecution in this case.

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Determining Life or Death: Day One of the Reggie Clemons Hearing

reggie clemons hearing

Reggie Clemons at day one of the trial that will determine if he lives or dies. © Scott Langley

Day one of the Reggie Clemons hearing concluded in St Louis, Missouri yesterday.  I left with its intensity lingering in my bones.  Directly in front of me was the man himself, Reggie Clemons, sitting quietly in a suit provided to him less than an hour before the hearing was to begin.  His alert eyes followed the proceedings that will have a bearing on whether he will live or die.  To my right was Rev. Thomas, his father.  In front of him was the victims’ mother, Mrs. Kerry.  Both sat silently.  I guessed that they had a mixture of numbness and pain in the face of a 21-year legal process set in motion by the terrible events of a dark night in 1991.

Behind me was an audibly frustrated woman, who I learned was the grandmother of one of the other two African American men who, with Reggie, was sent to death row.  (His sentence has since been changed to life).  Filling in the remaining stretches of pew space in the small courthouse were mostly Reggie supporters and some journalists.

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Is Reggie Clemons the Next Troy Davis? 10 Facts that Will Make Your Blood Boil

As we approach the first anniversary of the execution of Troy Davis, another man on death row urgently needs our help.  If Reggie Clemons’ hearing on September 17th goes poorly, then Missouri could join Georgia by executing a man convicted amid a great cloud of doubt.

Check out the shocking similarities and facts about the two cases below and then take action to stop the execution of Reggie Clemons.

Reggie Clemons Troy Davis Graphic

A Father Speaks Out: Don’t Let My Son Die

reggie clemons family Reynolds Thomas Vera Thomas

Rev. Reynolds Thomas and Vera Thomas have been fighting to keep their son Reggie Clemons from being executed in Missouri despite a strong case for innocence and gross prosecutorial misconduct.

By Rev. Reynolds Thomas

Next week is very important — you see, it will help determine whether my son will live or die. My son’s name is Reginald Clemons, but we call him Reggie. He has been on Missouri’s death row for about 20 years now. On Monday the 17th, his case will be reviewed by a judge for what could be the last time.

Chances like this don’t happen often and we are grateful for this special opportunity. Before we reach that step, I want you to understand a few things about the case, my son and just how fatal the flaws of the death penalty system can be.

Then I hope you’ll send a letter of support to Reggie — for strength, for compassion, for justice. I’ll give it to him personally before the hearing.

The state of Missouri has accused my son of killing two young women — pushing them into the Mississippi River in April 1991. The pain the family of these two girls has suffered after such a staggering loss is unfathomable. But from the beginning, the case against Reggie has been riddled with grave and glaring problems:

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The Reggie Clemons Interview: ‘I Know I’m Innocent’

Today, in the third part of “Death Penalty On Trial”, its multimedia examination of the Reggie Clemons case, The Guardian features an interview with Reggie himself.  In it, he maintains his innocence, discusses his version of what happened the night the Kerry sisters died, and describes the alleged beating he took at the hands of police.

“If you believe that somebody’s willing to beat you to death, while they’re beating you they can just about get you to admit anything.”

Watch for yourself:


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Reggie Clemons: Death Row Inmate Getting Another Chance

Reggie Clemons

Will Missouri execute Reggie Clemons despite so many doubts?

Reggie Clemons has been on Missouri’s death row for about 20 years, and as the Sept. 17 date for his hearing with a Special Master approaches, more and more attention is being focused on his case.

Today, The Guardian launched a multimedia examination of the case, including an introductory overview piece, the following video, and a moving sidebar about the Julie and Robin Kerry, the two sisters who lost their lives plunging from the Chain of Rocks Bridge on April 5, 1991.
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