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

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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

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

  1. While I agree completely that the death penalty is barbaric, inhuman, and needs to be abolished, the "shocking similarities" of the Davis and Clemons cases do not seem that shocking or similar to me.

    That said, I am fully on board with your efforts to stop another unjust execution by a so-called civilized society. Thanks for bringing it to people's attention.

  2. While I oppose the death penalty, I actually think its weakens our position to try to spin two cases where the men committed horrible crimes and try to make them innocent. Both could be guilty and the death penalty still wrong

  3. Is the death penalty an economic solution, a revenge punishment or deterrent? If it's the latter then it obviously isn't working if the figures are any guide. Surely an ongoing, longterm punishment could be an economic success &,given some original thought, It could satisfy those looking for revenge.

  4. It does make for a confusing public campaign when the two fundamentals of being against a miscarriage of justice and being against the death penalty in any case are conflated.

  5. Clemons is not innocent. He had plenty of opportunity to argue his case through the appeals process but failed at each step. The special master is now enacted because some attempt to make a martyr out of a triple killer. Examine the facts here and fight the good fight by concentrating on real human rights issues (US education, healthcare and immigration reform stand out for me) for once, instead of pleading clemency for murderers. Shame on AIUSA.!!!

  6. Lee – one thing that bothers me about AIUSA's approach is the attempt to intervene in court-related matters. The issues you speak of were reviewed DE NOVO during the appeals many times with one result, the Federal Appeals Court's reinstatement of Clemons' death sentence in 2004. The SCOTUS refuses to hear the case simply because it is meritless.

    AIUSA has no evidence other than insinuations and guesses without sufficient information and one-sided (Clemons') claims of innocence. Clemons' had plenty of opportunity to argue his innocence at all levels of the appeals process. Do you suppose that there is all this conspiracy at the State/Federal (including the SCOTUS) levels to keep Clemons on death row?

    To answer a question you posited to me: NO, I do not think that fighting for murderers can be placed on the same pedestal as the human rights issues I identified. AIUSA is instrumental in excusing murderers from constitutionally-supported and the SCOTUS-approved punishment.

  7. Probably old Yoko is also a fan of Viennese Actionism as Tolokonnikova (Pussy Riot). For her, perhaps, will tear the body of Beslan children in a sea of ​​blood, also art. It is to this “art” Tolokonnikova teaches his four-year daughter. Can you imagine what the monster will grow out of this girl when she was 4 years old show dismembered corpses in the sea of ​​blood and call it art.
    In order to receive the Peace Prize to:
    1) To thrust between a chicken leg
    2) put on a show with hanging gays
    3) Arrange a dance in the temple
    4) take a public sex
    5) That the body is torn of Beslan children in a sea of ​​blood art.
    etc., will be worse than your actions, the more probable that the Peace Prize!

  8. I don't know whether Clemmons is innocent – which would be afundamental HR issue, just like the potential wrongful executions of Troy Davis amd Cameron Willingham, and there is so much conflicting evidence that I do not have an opinion on it.
    I have major reservations about the cousin who was able to swim the currents of the Missippi river and defy a 70ft jump – with no visible injuries, being dry, with no sign of wet or dirty hair. I don't know the circumstances of the case, but even if he was picked up by Police after a relatively long time lapse – it doesn't seem reasonable to me that he would go home to shower and dry after the event. Indeed, it would be in his best interests not to do so. And why change his story, not once or twice but SIX times? Perhaps there's much more to this case, but I definitely think that Cummins has some serious questions to answer – his final story failed a polygraph.
    But then again, the victims' DNA was apparently found on the clothes of one of the defendants – when they initially met on the bridge, were they in close proximity? Despite apparent evidence linking Gray to the rape, it has been suggested that as a man of 6ft 5in, he could not have accessed the manhole where the victims were allegedly raped and thrown off the bridge. I have also read that despite claims of being forced to strip, one of the victims was recovered from the river CLOTHED.
    Again, this case is far from clear cut – it appears as something of a mystery but where there is doubt, it would surely be unwise to proceed with this execution.

    Moving on, though as Terrance Williams and Reggie Clemons have at least been granted evidentiary hearings, does anyone know what Amnesty is doing about the potential wrongful execution of Preston Hughes in Texas? He has not been granted nearly as much coverage as Reggie and with an execution date of 15th November, I think it is high time he was given some focus – I have hardly seen him mentioned n this website despite writing to Amnesty several times.

  9. There are very few similarities between the Davis and Clemons cases. Yes, physical evidence does link Clemons and his associates to the scene of the crime, including DNA evidence found on the pants of one of the victims. Clemons's associate, Marlin Gray, admitted that he had in his possession the watch of one of the victims, which Clemons and his associates robbed from the victims, and that watch was found at Gray's friend's house, where Gray admitted he stashed it. Most important, hugely important–remember that Clemons admitted to rape and murder in a signed, taped confession to detectives. Four people corroborated that admission (three of the perpetrators and the one surviving victim). And Clemons claimed police brutality and that his confession was coerced, but several witnesses, including a Clemons family friend, maintained in court that Clemons did not show signs of injury after the confession. Read that confession yourself and you will see it is not coerced. All this information is all in the case file, and the jury made decisions on this information.

    Troy Davis did not admit to murder; Clemons admitted to rape and murder. That is one huge fact that Amnesty is not telling you. Anyone who says that "Clemons has always maintained his innocence" is lying or is severely misguided by people or groups like Amnesty–no, Clemons admitted to rape and murder. There are several friends and acquaintances of the perpetrators who witnessed Gray and Clemons together and Gray by himself admit to the murders in the weekend following the murders. This happened at social gatherings–parties / hanging out with friends. Amnesty says nothing about that.

    Look into the case yourself. Look into the case testimony before jumping on this Amnesty bandwagon. Amnesty should feel free to voice its stance against capital punishment, and Amnesty does some good work nationally and especially internationally on issues like freedom of political dissidents, but for Amnesty to distort the facts on this case is shameful. And for Amnesty to suggest that the Kerry sisters' cousin is the murderer . . . that is slanderous.

  10. Lee, I appreciate your reply. You said that "If Cummins had had no involvement in the crime whatsoever, there would have been no reason for him to confess to murder." Point number one I’d like to make on your statement: I curious why you don’t apply the same rationale to Clemons, Gray, Richardson, and Winfrey, who all admitted to either rape and murder or rape alone in signed, taped confessions. There would have been no reason for them to confess. No police brutality. Several witnesses at last week's hearing and previously nearly twenty years ago testified that Clemons did not show signs of having been beaten. You say that Clemons's face is swollen. While I trust the several witnesses’ testimony, including a fingerprint technician and a Clemons family friend, I also looked at the photo presented at the hearing (video of it is linked to in the Guardian story at http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/sep/22/reggi…. I see no swelling there. If there is swelling it is minor enough to not be immediately visible to me, and I think a reasonable person would agree that one would not confess to rape and murder without being subject to serious, brutal coercion. The man wasn’t waterboarded or something. Even Gray’s claims of abuse amount to claims only of his being smacked upside the head with a notebook.

    Before I make point number two about your statement, let me repeat what you wrote. You wrote, “If Cummins had had no involvement in the crime whatsoever, there would have been no reason for him to confess to murder.” Point number two: Cummins never confessed to murder. Your claim that he did is misguided. Cummins always maintained that the four convicted murdered the sisters. When you mistakenly say that Cummins "confess[ed]," you are referring to a supposed statement made to detectives that Cummins accidentally knocked Julie off the side railing of the bridge when he went to hug her. That's not even murder, a moot point because it didn't happen. Cummins has always maintained that he never said that scenario happened and that detectives suggested that scenario to him, and that he denied that scenario when it was suggested to him–and yet detectives added it to the police statement anyway. Cummins won a settlement over this–that the police fabricated such statements and added them to the report. The police's fabrications about Cummins do not mean that Clemons and his cohorts are innocent.

    The case file I referred to is court testimony in the Gray case from several people. Much of it can be read at, of all places, http://www.marlin-gray.com/?id=legal_papers, which is a website for Marlin Gray's supposed innocence but which makes available some truly damning testimony of Gray.

    You say, “Wasn’t Clemons’ rape charge dropped once he had been convicted as an accessory to murder? If the rape he had confessed to had been an integral part of the crime, why drop the charge if they had believed he had committed it?” Probably because the body of Robin Kerry, the woman Clemons raped, was never recovered. Probably also because the body of Julie Kerry, recovered after three weeks in the Mississippi River a couple hundred miles downriver, was decomposed so that administration of a rape kit would be inconclusive. Perhaps because Cummins could only testify that rape occurred but could not see who raped whom, and thus could not corroborate Winfrey’s specific testimony of who raped whom. But I can only speculate. I don’t know why the charges were dropped. I would trust the murderers’ signed and taped confessions on this and say they are guilty of rape.

  11. [Lee, my comment was too long and I have to post as separate comments.]

    You say, “When [Cummins] gave his initial statement at the police station, his clean appearance and absence of any injuries were documented by the police.” No, that is incorrect in part. True he did not show significant injuries, but police never said he was clean. Rather, he was said to be clean from the neck up. A forensics person combed his hair for river silt and none or not a significant amount (it is unclear which) was found. People have twisted that to mean that Cummins was “clean.” Untrue.

    You say, “Do you think that he could have survived a massive drop from the bridge unharmed, given that both of his cousins had drowned in the rough conditions described by a lifeguard, and that forensic teams were never able to recover the body of one of them?” Point number one on this quote: The height from the water level was said to be 90 feet. But it likely wasn't a 90-foot drop. It was more likely 67 feet. Your claim of a “massive drop” highlights one of the problems in the police's treatment of Cummins. The police asked the opinion of several "experts" regarding the bridge height and the water depth and the current, etc. And these "experts" in turn gave offhand approximations to the detectives. So what was really a drop of something like 67 feet became 90 feet and an impossible feat to survive (despite the fact that people survive even 90-foot falls into water). And the expert's opinion that Cummins would be unable to swim against the powerful intake valves of the water treatment plant downstream? That "fact" was used against Cummins, too, when the detectives questioned him, and it is used against him to this day in forums such as these. But it turns out that that water treatment plant wasn't even pumping water that night. Thus “facts” that were actually nonfactual were stacked against Cummins and were the basis for the suggested scenarios that police made to him.

    Point number two on your above quote: Yes, I absolutely believe that the Kerry sisters would not have been able to swim to safety. Do you think they should have been able to? Google map the Chain of Rocks Bridge so you can see the width of the Mississippi at that location. The crime happened just west of the bend in the bridge. Cummins was a firefighter and had completed some water rescue training, which to me means he was a capable swimmer. The fact that he was able to survive but unable to save his cousins despite this training is not evidence against him.

    Lee, you asked, “You said that DNA found links Clemons and his associates to the crime. Could you elaborate upon this?” Sure. I got this information per the September 20, 2012, “Saint Louis Post-Dispatch” coverage of the hearing: “There was male DNA from at least two individuals on Gray's boxers and from at least three individuals on his pants. Clemons could not be eliminated as a source of it, [Stacey Bolinger, of the Missouri State Highway Patrol Crime Lab] said. Also on the clothing was the same female DNA that was found on the condom [that was found at the crime scene]. Kim Gorman, formerly of the St. Louis police crime lab, testified that DNA had ‘a very high likelihood’ of belonging to one of the Kerry sisters." Lee, the story is published in the “Saint Louis Post-Dispatch” at http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-cour….

    Regarding your question of “You say that several friends and acquaintances of the perpetrators witnessed Gray and Clemons together and Gray by himself admit to the murders in the weekend following the murders. What is your source? Did they testify in court?” My source is Gray’s own testimony, which can be read at http://www.marlin-gray.com/?id=legal_papers. In that questioning you’ll see that testimonies from several witnesses are referred to. The prosecutor asks Gray why these people would lie to say that Gray said he did it, and in response Gray says those people were either mistaken or that he (Gray) was joking around.

    I guarantee you that if you read Gray’s testimony you will deem him guilty. A lot of the Gray defense is actually to claim that Clemons played a larger role in the crimes than Gray did. There is no question as to their guilt, only to the degree they all played in the crimes. In Missouri, though, it does not matter if Richardson pushed the girls and Clemons did not. In Missouri, Clemons aided in the murder and is just as guilty because he was blocking their escape. Likewise, when Winfrey admitted that he held down one of the girls while one of the convicted (either Gray or Clemons, I don’t recall) raped her, Winfrey is just as guilty as the one who had intercourse even though Winfrey did not have intercourse. This is not only my opinion but is Missouri state law.

  12. [continued]

    Lee, you ask about the commuting of Antonio Richardson’s sentencing from the death penalty to life in prison. In part you ask, “Richardson’s death sentence was commuted but Clemons’ remains. . . . Had the court not conceded that Clemons had not carried out the crime, nor planned it?” No, the commuting of Richardson’s sentence is not a concession at all. The commuting of Richardson’s sentence does not mean Clemons is innocent, nor does it mean Richardson is innocent. Richardson’s sentence was commuted because he was sixteen at the time of the crimes and because he was said to be mildly retarded. You also say, “If Winfrey plead guilty to second-degree murder and rape, why was he sentenced to just 15 years in prison?” Lee, Winfrey was not originally sentenced to fifteen years in prison. Winfrey was sentenced to thirty years in prison. Sadly, he served only fifteen years. Winfrey was the youngest of the criminals, at fifteen years old, and made a plea bargain. The fact that Winfrey’s sentence was the mildest does not mean he is innocent, nor does it mean the others are innocent.

    Finally, you mention Gray’s contradictions, and the other convicteds’ contradictions, and Gray’s implicating of Clemons. . . . Okay, the fact that the three convicted contradict one another’s stories in testimony does not mean there is reasonable doubt about their innocence. It simply means that they’re liars, and murderers, and I believe rapists and thieves–all of which are judgments I make based partly on their own legally obtained, uncoerced confessions.

    My opinion–and this is my opinion only–is that Clemons in his signed, taped confession did not realize he was admitting to murder, only that he was admitting to rape, because he didn’t realize that Missouri state law defines “murder” as aiding in the murder of another. In that confession Clemons says that Richardson pushed Julie Kerry. I think Clemons did not understand that he himself was guilty, too. When Clemons says today, “I know I am innocent,” I believe it is because he probably has a different definition in his mind of murder than the state does. That to me means he has a twisted mind. He aided in the murders and so is guilty of them. That is the important point.

  13. [continued]

    Finally, finally, if you and Amnesty would like to argue that Clemons should not be executed because he aided in the murders, that capital punishment should not be applied to those who aid in murder, then that is your prerogative. But such an opinion has nothing at all to do with the facts of this case, and you must not confuse such an opinion with innocence of the convicted.

  14. I believe Reginald Clemons is guilty. Not based on my feelings about what happened on that bridge , but actual conversations that were conducted in my presence. Reginald Clemons ,Marlin Gray ,and Antonio Richardson were in my custody during their pretrial detainment.They would often meet in the law library to discuss their pending trial which would often break down into arguments between them.Blaming one another for their role in the crime, "Why'd you keep the damn flashlight and watch."etc. One day stands out to this day the three co-defendents took great delight in what they believed to be the best joke told in eons.A.Richardson stated "We should just tell them it was'nt murder we was just trying to clean all our jizz off of them by throwing them in the river".Are these the type of people AIUSA ARE WASTING RESOURCES ON. NO THANKS.

  15. Firstly, I’d just say that this was a horrible, horrible crime and my sympathies go out to the victims’ families and whatever the outcome of this case, I hope they find closure. I’ll admit my earlier comment was not phrased correctly and I apologise that it was not, but all I meant to say was that all issues pertinent to the case should be addressed so that justice can be administered – WHATEVER its outcome. I just think ALL issues and potential in discrepancies should be asked and addressed so that justice, whatever course it takes, can move on – I didn’t say the cousin was guilty but said I had serious reservations about his changing stories etc and think all these issues should be finally settled before finally deciding Clemmons’ fate so that there can no longer be any doubt of his innocence or guilt when that final decision is made.

    As I have also said too, I don’t know whether Clemmons is innocent and I never affirmed in my earlier comment that I believed him to do so but the Supreme Court ordered the hearing so surely they must have had issues, perhaps not necessarily due to his claims of innocence but perhaps due to accusations of Police brutality. Whatever the case, they clearly had reservations about the application of the law in this case but I accept that if he was there and didn’t at least leave to get help – he should be condemned with the rest of them. Again, all I’ll say is that whatever course, this decision takes – I hope it will be the right one and will deliver closure for all concerned – at the very least, no one will be able to claim that this latest decision was tainted in any way.

  16. I read Michael's comment and went to the newspaper article to read: "Also on the clothing was the same female DNA that was found on the condom. Kim Gorman, formerly of the St. Louis police crime lab, testified that DNA had "a very high likelihood" of belonging to one of the Kerry sisters." My question is why would a condom be used during a rape? Did one of the Kerry sisters consent to having sex? That would change the entire picture.

  17. Does anyone have a guess why Reggie Clemons took the 5th Amendment instead of telling his story of what happened on the bridge?

  18. Everybody had they on opinion of the case but at the end of the day we serve a God thay sits high and looks low