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.

The state of Missouri charged and convicted my son of killing two young women - pushing them off a bridge into the Mississippi River in April 1991. The pain the family of these two girls has suffered after such a tragic loss is unimaginable. But from the beginning, the case against Reggie has been full of blatant problems:

First - My son’s face was so swollen after his interrogation by St. Louis police that the judge arraigning him sent him to the emergency room. More recently, bail investigator Warren Weeks has come forward stating that he saw the injuries on Reggie’s face and that he submitted a written report of this observation.

Second - Not one, not two, but four federal judges have agreed that the prosecutor’s conduct during Reggie’s trial was “abusive and boorish.” This prosecutor compared my son, who at 19 years old never had a criminal record, to two convicted serial killers.

Third - I wish race weren’t a factor, but it is a fact that the single most reliable predictor of whether someone will be sentenced to death is the race of the victim. My son is a black man. The two young women who were killed were white. Add that to the disproportionate dismissal of blacks during jury selection, and you get a perfect storm of racial discrimination.

How can my son be about to lose his life when there is evidence of both prosecutorial misconduct and police brutality involved with his case? The judicial system is meant to be fair, however many of those who sit on death row are up against a flawed judicial system where justice for many lives has yet to prevail.

Over the years, many of you have joined our family in advocating against the death penalty, for justice, for what’s right. It’s kept us strong, even when fighting for so many years against such an unjust system has been tiring.

We must continue. For justice and for Reggie.

Thank you.

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

  1. Well written Vera. Please know that many of us are praying for and fighting for Reggie. You are an incredibly strong woman and I admire your strength and determination. It is my wish that next year on Mother's Day that you will be able to spend it with Reggie in freedom!

  2. 21 years waiting for being executed is even more brutal than execution itself. It's so hard to believe that that happens in the United States of America.

  3. God gives Life to every human being only Him should take It away.
    Our Heavenly Father, please help all those who wait for death penalty and their beloved show them Your Mercy. Through the Miystery of Jesus' death and Ressurrection may every nation abolish death penalty, may the Virgin Mary convert every human heart to Your Love, so help usLord!

  4. I know this story. Read that book. It was a first hand account of a young man who was wrongfully accused of killing his cousins. He and his two female cousins were hanging down at that bridge when they ran into 3 men. The account is horrific. What in the young man's account is incorrect? I never read the case. I advocate for a wrongfully convicted man on DR myself, so I am not asking the question to be combative.

  5. I'm praying for you and your son because never will more death be the way to peace. Though having never been involved in a death penalty case, i have been a vocal opponent of capital punishment. Since a grade school report i did (its been 20 years) i've known of the common fallacies used to support controlled murder. As a high profile case highlights the debate in today's time i've found myself again debating the points with friends & associates. I will never waver in my belief that judge & jury justified murder only exaserbates the violence in the country. I have to tell you, i'm saddened even further by reading i did this morning before coming across your plea.I just learned of the stats showing a racial tie to capital punishment. I hear your story, i'll repeat it.
    i hope the best for you.

  6. The U.S. constitution has been shredded. Prosecutors and police run this country. The DA and police can lie with no consequences. What DA is going to prosecute a police officer who lies on the stand? DAs rely on the police for convictions. In New York, a prosecutor can hand a defense attorney a stack of papers the day of trial. How is a defense attorney supposed to defend a case when they haven't had time to prepare? The state and feds have unlimited resources. A defendant has limited resources. Yet, the criminal INjustice system has made it nearly impossible to defend against an accusation. The only remaining rights a defendant has is the few very explicit lines in the constitution and a few explicit court cases. Everything else has been stripped away. Now that we are aware of how the criminal Injustice system works, we know how wrong the death penalty really is. So now…. I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United Empire of America….for liberty (for the rich) and injustice for all.

  7. I'm sure ROBIN & JULIE KERRY's mother didn't want them to die at the hands of a murderer like Reggie Clemons. Amnesty International should be ashamed of themselves for advocating for a monster

  8. Reggie Clemons executed Robin and Julie Kerry. He needs to pay for his crime. Set the date.

  9. I hope that piece of filth Reggie dies a horrible death and his days until his execution are hell. Physical evidence, witness testimony and a confession all aren’t enough for the racisdt blacks who argue for his release based on the color of his skin.

  10. thanks sam for your comment! because,…it's a real truth in the US justice….
    >… michael jackson went free for child molestation, everyone knows he bought all of them! and the US justice is a lie, sold for a price, made by reach people! the US system defends the reach and kill the poor and other minorities,…

  11. Very nicely described by Vera!! I'm sorry to hear that an innocent is under pressure of death penalty. US justice sometimes shows correct value and sometimes wrong. In the mean time there are plenty others like us who are getting disappointed by justice they're getting. I just wish till end good fortune will be with Reggie that's it.
    abolishing the death penalty

  12. god bless you – as you have said, no mother should ever have to witness their son take their last breath. I guess there are 2 sides to this – first that – he is guilty of murder – however – the even bigger issue (and a well known one) that the justice system is nothing but corrupt – it seems that race does play a role – it seems that police offiicers can do what they want with regards to being physical, and judges are corrupt all the way down their middle. Long story cut short, I really do feel for you – and I think its brave of you to share this story with us. I hope it ends up the right way, not the wrong. WIll keep following

  13. I believe the death punishment is a horrible violation of human rights and it should be abolished. As if this weren't enough, I can't imagine a greater pain in any person's life than to outlive your children. This is a very sad story!