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.


The Kerry sisters were strong believers in human rights and humanitarian causes (Julie was a member of Amnesty International), and they opposed racism. A poem Julie Kerry had written on the bridge, which they had gone to see the night they died, ended simply with “We’ve got II STOP Killing One Another.” Sadly, their vision of a world free of violence and racism was not reflected in the investigation and prosecutions that followed their deaths.

Police brutality, racial bias in jury selection, over-the-top prosecutorial behavior, and a relentless pursuit of the death penalty – that was how St. Louis authorities sought justice for the Kerry sisters.

When Reggie Clemons was arraigned, the judge sent him to the hospital because of his injured appearance following a bout of police interrogation. When he was sentenced to death, it was as an accomplice. The prosecution conceded that he neither killed the victims nor planned the crime. He was convicted on the basis of testimony of two witnesses (both white) – one who received a plea bargain, and the other who received a six figure police brutality settlement.

Reggie Clemons has consistently maintained his innocence, as did his two African-American co-defendants (one of whom has already been executed).

Finally, in 2009, Missouri’s hyper-aggressive approach in this case (and the propensity for that kind of approach to get things wrong) troubled the Missouri Supreme Court so much that it appointed the Special Master who has been re-investigating the case.

Can Missouri get it right this time? Urge Missouri Governor Jay Nixon to stop the execution.

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14 thoughts on “Reggie Clemons: Death Row Inmate Getting Another Chance

  1. So foolish. Winfrey was a 15 year old at the time of the crime. I guess you would have us all believe he's lying (and in the last 20 years has never recanted or changed – despite nothing to gain or lose at this point), the girls cousin (also a victim that happened to survive the 70 foot plunge into the mississippi river) is lying and the confession was made up cause the police roughed up Clemons? Maybe you would have us believe the whole story was made up — it just so happened they all met in the same place — the murderers that also raped and robbed the victims just happened to be found with the stolen items in possession and the two sisters and the cousin just decided to voluntarily jump 70 feet into the water below – without being pushed or forced. Maybe it was a spontaneous suicide attempt by all 3? Yeah – and for good measure throw in the race card after all – it's only because the alleged culprits and alleged victims are black and white respectfully. I hope this doesn't drag out another 10 years. Keep advocating for rapists and murderers, keep making deplorable human beings out to be martyrs and AI continues to lose credibility and support for real human rights issues.

  2. "How can society benefit from replicating the violence it condemns?"-from Helen Prejean's Dead Man Walking

  3. Unless the convicted rapist and murderer is violently raped and thrown 70 feet from a bridge to his death society is not "replicating the violence it condemns"… Your poor bleeding heart.

  4. Brian, there was no evidence to prosecute him for rape. He was not tried for rape. He was not convicted of rape. Therefore, he cannot be a convicted rapist.

  5. You are correct – not "convicted" of rape "just" a couple of murders. Thank you for correcting me.

  6. Brian, I think it's important to argue what's factual. Referring to Reggie Clemons as a "convicted rapist" as you did above is misleading and prejudicial.

    If there was no police brutality, why did the judge order medical treatment for Clemons at the arraignment?

    If there was no police brutality, why the settlement?

    The cousin initially confessed the he killed them.

    There is no physical evidence, just the testimony from two people who were both also under investigation and had every reason to point the finger the other way.

    It's too much doubt.

  7. I infer that Brian pointed out that the appeals process is just nonsensical. If a case is procedurally sound and the appeals have been exausted through the levels, then there is no need for a special master. This now boils down to Clemons vs. eyewitness testimony. I am going to take a quess here and state that the eyewitness testimony will prevail. There is nothing in the Missouri death penalty statute that points to lack of physical evidence to warrant exoneration. The only thing I can see come from this special master is a possible reduction to LWOP.

  8. You can always execute the guilty, but, can never bring back to life the innocent executed.
    They have waited so long to execute him, why not wait till the case is reexamined?
    After all aren't the victims looking for justice?
    How could there be justice if the wrong man is punished?

  9. My brother Troy Davis was put to death by the State for a crime he did not commit, after spending his last 21 years confined with men some of whom he knew to be brutal and unrepentant killers. He was killed, with malice and premeditation, by people some of whom knew him to be innocent. Nonetheless, he yearned to end legal state-sponsored killing. He recognized it as an evil and corrupting force upon the human spirit, lethal to the spirits of those who pursue it (none of this is his language; it is my own).
    He had every good reason to hate, and yet would not. He died with forgiveness for his killers on his lips.
    This killing must end. It gives no peace to survivors (speaking as a murder victim family member). It restores nothing to our society. It does not deter violence or reduce violent crime. Death brings one this only: another grieving family. It makes killers of every one of us. We must see it end.

  10. In 2009, the Supreme Court of the United States ordered the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia to consider whether new evidence "that could not have been obtained at the time of trial clearly establishes [Davis's] innocence." The evidentiary hearing was held in June 2010. The defense presented affidavits from seven of the nine trial witnesses whose original testimony had identified Davis as the murderer, but who it contended had changed or recanted their previous testimony. Some of these writings disavowed parts of prior testimony, or implicated Sylvester "Redd" Coles, who Davis contended was the actual triggerman. The state presented witnesses, including the police investigators and original prosecutors, who described a careful investigation of the crime, without any coercion. Davis did not call some of the witnesses who had supposedly recanted, despite their presence in the courthouse; accordingly their affidavits were given little weight by the judge. Evidence that Coles had confessed to the killing was excluded as hearsay because Coles was not subpoenaed by the defense to rebut it.

  11. In an August 2010 decision, Troy Davis' conviction was upheld. The court described defense efforts to upset the conviction as "largely smoke and mirrors"[3] and found that several of the proffered affidavits were not recantations at all. Subsequent appeals, including to the Supreme Court, were rejected, and a fourth execution date was set for September 21, 2011. Nearly one million people signed petitions urging the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to grant clemency.[4] The Board denied clemency[5] and, on September 21, it refused to reconsider its decision.[6] After a last minute appeal to the United States Supreme Court was denied, the sentence was carried out through lethal injection on September 21, 2011.[7]

  12. You people watch too much television. Americans are so bloodthirsty, so barbaric and militaristic. Maybe there should be an elected position of 'Chief Executioneer. I would make supporters of capital punishment do the executions personally, by garrotte or by stabbing with a very small knife…selection by lottery among c.p. supporters, microbrains…urr, sorry 'Republicans'.