A Long Ride: Rev. Reynolds and Vera Thomas’ Journey Seeking Justice For Their Son

Reggie Clemons (Photo Credit: Private).

Reggie Clemons (Photo Credit: Private).

By Meredith Reese, Amnesty International USA’s Missouri State Death Penalty Abolition Coordinator 

In the early morning hours of February 4th, Reggie Clemons’ parents found themselves once again preparing for a long ride across the state of Missouri to yet another court hearing. This one was to be held in Jefferson City in front of the Missouri State Supreme Court and has been a long time coming.

Reggie’s parents were joined by a large enthusiastic group of supporters who gathered 130 miles away in Saint Louis, in the gray, pre-dawn light to board a bus for the long ride to Jefferson City. Many of them taking off work, skipping school and losing countless hours of precious sleep between them, just to be there for this crucial moment.

Their decision could range from a new trial, to keeping Reggie on death row and setting the path for Reggie to receive an execution date. There is simply no way to know for sure where the chips will fall.

Being surrounded by activists and fellow supporters is nothing new for Rev. Reynolds and Vera Thomas, Reggie’s parents, and yet, they never forget to thank each and every attendee personally. They know the sacrifices necessary to fight for the life of their son, having struggled themselves for more than two decades, and so it is good to hear that they don’t have to travel that long and difficult road alone.

Back in 2009, the state Supreme Court appointed a Judge as a Special Master to hear more/new evidence involving Reggie’s case, and submit findings to the Court as far as what they should decide regarding his death sentence. Since Reggie Clemons is currently on death row, such actions or inactions could literally mean the difference between life and death.

Death penalty abolitionists Rev. Reynolds Thomas and Vera Thomas, who have been fighting to keep their son Reggie Clemons from being executed in Missouri despite a strong case for innocence and gross prosecutorial misconduct (Photo Credit: Amnesty International).

Rev. Reynolds Thomas and Vera Thomas have been fighting to keep their son Reggie Clemons from being executed in Missouri (Photo Credit: Amnesty International).

The hearing on that day went much like all the others had before it: each side making their arguments, and the judges – in this case, Missouri Supreme Court justices – asked the usual questions before a courtroom packed with Clemons’ friends, family, and supporters.

It will be several weeks, or perhaps even months, before we hear what the Court has to say. Their decision could range from a new trial, to keeping Reggie on death row and setting the path for Reggie to receive an execution date. There is simply no way to know for sure where the chips will fall.

In the meantime, Reggie and his parents were reminded that they are never alone, not anymore. We are many, we are strong and we stand in solidarity with Reggie. We will be here until there is a resolution, whatever it may be, though we will continue to hope and work for what is just, as always. We will never stop till we have put an end to the death penalty.

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