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.
Judge Manners himself, during the four-hour hearing this month, is reported to have said:
“There was shoddy police work almost beyond comprehension … when I said shoddy I meant they took a path of least resistance, closing an investigation early as it was the easiest thing to do.”
Does this mean Reggie Clemons will get a new trial, or at least have his death sentence quashed? Maybe.Judge Manners announced on the 18th that his final recommendations would be completed by June 1, so we will know in a month or two.
In the meantime, we need to keep taking action for Reggie Clemons, and keep spreading the word about his case. The fundamentally flawed nature of cases like this – and there are many cases like this – is one very obvious and compelling reason why the death penalty must be abolished.