A Father Speaks Out: Don’t Let My Son Die

reggie clemons family Reynolds Thomas Vera Thomas

Rev. Reynolds Thomas and Vera Thomas have been fighting to keep their son Reggie Clemons from being executed in Missouri despite a strong case for innocence and gross prosecutorial misconduct.

By Rev. Reynolds Thomas

Next week is very important — you see, it will help determine whether my son will live or die. My son’s name is Reginald Clemons, but we call him Reggie. He has been on Missouri’s death row for about 20 years now. On Monday the 17th, his case will be reviewed by a judge for what could be the last time.

Chances like this don’t happen often and we are grateful for this special opportunity. Before we reach that step, I want you to understand a few things about the case, my son and just how fatal the flaws of the death penalty system can be.

Then I hope you’ll send a letter of support to Reggie — for strength, for compassion, for justice. I’ll give it to him personally before the hearing.

The state of Missouri has accused my son of killing two young women — pushing them into the Mississippi River in April 1991. The pain the family of these two girls has suffered after such a staggering loss is unfathomable. But from the beginning, the case against Reggie has been riddled with grave and glaring problems:

How can my son be about to lose his life when there is so much so clearly wrong with this case?

First, my sons’ face was so swollen after his interrogation by St. Louis police that the judge arraigning him sent him to the emergency room.

Second, not one, not two, but four federal judges have agreed that the prosecutor’s conduct when cross-examining Reggie was “abusive and boorish”. This prosecutor compared my son, who at 19 years old never even 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.

Fourth, and most troubling of all — the state’s only two eye-witnesses included a man who, at one point, confessed to police that he murdered the girls and another who took a plea in exchange for a lighter sentence!

How can my son be about to lose his life when there is so much so clearly wrong with this case?

Reggie Clemons, St Louis, Missouri

Reggie Clemons

The support we’ve received over the years from Amnesty International and its members has been such an inspiration. It’s kept us strong, even when fighting a system that has, at times, made us feel weak.

That’s why I’ve invited Amnesty representatives to join me at Monday’s special hearing in Missouri. We want to pack as much positive energy as we can into that courtroom! They’ll bring your messages to me and I will deliver them directly to Reggie. I know it will mean a lot to him.

My son has come within 12 days of execution by lethal injection before. No person should have to endure the cruelty of a looming death sentence.

I’m praying that Monday’s hearing will be our chance to lay all the evidence, facts and flaws out on the table once and for all. I’m praying that your messages of support give him the strength he needs to keep fighting. And most of all, I’m praying that justice is coming for my son, Reggie.

Rev. Reynolds Thomas is the stepfather of Reggie Clemons

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27 thoughts on “A Father Speaks Out: Don’t Let My Son Die

  1. I hope you and your son find the justice that is needed here today. It is a shame that our system is broken to the extent that we have put to death innocent people. Amnesty International is a great community with lots of resources to assist you on this terrible journey.
    For your son, I pray God is in his heart and he asks God to move mountains for him. I can not imagine what a terrible thing to have to face… believe in God as he will move that mountain ….

  2. Wishing you the courage and strength throughout this terribly heartbreaking time. May your voice be heard and understood. May the failures of an imperfect legal system be remedied as discrimination of ones ethnicity, colour, gender, sexual orientation, religion etc etc etc should never be the deciding factor to guilt. Violence and hate have no place in our legal system…. Evidence, objectivity and and even handed approach to the law are what is required. May the outcome be one where the truth is victorious.

  3. Dear Sir,
    I'm so sorry for what you,your family and your son have had to endure.It is criminal and heinous that this has been allowed to happen to your son Reggie at all! My thoughts and support are with you. and I'm hoping for a good outcome and freedom for Reggie.

  4. You stay as positive as you can, I send good thoughts and all the love I can to you dear. You hang in there and everything will work out the way it's supposed to. Just be positive and focus on the freedom that you deserve.

  5. Reverend Thomas, it must be especially frustrating for you as a man of God to see the death penalty applied in this case, because the Bible clearly states that no one is to be put to death except upon the testimony of two eyewitnesses. I am hoping that people of faith will put pressure on the state of Missouri to do the right thing and free your son, and also hopefully bring the true killers to justice.

  6. Thinking of Reggie and your family everyday. Praying that the court will rule in his favor.

  7. i want to say something helpful and wise,but every time i hear this kind of story my anger at the evil and stupidity of humans.They surely are not any kind christains or have faith in God and how he wants people treat each other . I pray God is with your whole family and big extra dose of faith and love for your son.

  8. There will be a rally in support of Reggie on Saturday in St. Louis, Missouri. If you are in the area please come and show your support.

  9. Wish I could be in that rally…it is impossible for me to even try to understand what you and your family is going through…may God Almighty give you all strength to fight this with success ….I have read..I have followed and I can't believe they have let it get this close…thee are no words to express my disgust for the system….this is at times like this everybody have to understand that THIS is the reason death-penalty is WRONG……it has to be stopped…ONE innocent executed is ONE TOO MUCH!!!! We are a huge Nation, a Nation that the world look up to in many things….but we are looked down at for the reason we are one of the last modern countries that still use this barbaric method for punishment……Reggie, to you and your family…ALL my prayers and well wishes ….

  10. Keep your head up Reggie and the Clemons family and wait on the lord. God has brought all of you this far and i pray that he carry you all through the hearing. Keep the faith, have no fear, and please believe that God is in control….. Isaiah 40:31But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

  11. Why is it so difficult to spare a life ?If his sentence is commuted to life in prison.If he is found to be innocent,his life is spared.If he is actually guilty he would never be free to see the light of day again,is that not both justice and mercy.?What do the families of the victims think,is there a possibility of this mans, innocence would they themselves want his life spared?Who knows?

  12. Innocent or no innocent; "DEATH SENTENCE" even to the worst kind of criminal on Earth is too cruel, too insensitive and absolutely negative not giving forgiveness another chance to turn this man around.
    To the parents and relatives of the two fine ladies who met an untimely death; know that; every parent on the globe are crying for you.Nothing worse than this can happen in any body's life. May God you trust guide you and you who are; already wonderful human beings become ever more wonderful. Invite "PEACE" TO YOUR HEARTS". God bless!

  13. Only heard about this tragic story three weeks ago and it is so obvious that reggie clemons is innoccent, taking his life after so many years incarcerated is human torture ,no one deserves that.Rehabilitation with his obviously loving family,is a more appropriate answer to this tragedy so as everyone can carry on.The story of the Kerry sisters is so sad and i feel for the family but taking another life is not going to give anyone a peace of mind or closure.Good luck too all. Sally , Scotland.

  14. One tragedy here is the American Justice System. I don't understand why so many people have such blind
    faith in the lower courts that they give them the power over life and death. In my opinion, all cases involving
    the possibility of corporal punishment should go to the Supreme Court. Even then there should be extra measures taken to ensure that it is a fair case. The U.K. outlawed corporal punishment after they found a
    single case in which the state killed an innocent person. Americans need to wake up and realize that there
    are many cases like Reggie's case, and this is not just an unusual circumstance. This kind of thing is common in the U.S. and needs to stop!

  15. I pray that justice is served and that your son is put to death for the heinous crimes he commited. Even if the police beat him, a witness recanted and the evil white man is a racist, it does not alleviate the fact that you son was involved in a brutal rape ,robbery and murder of 2 peace loving souls. May god have mercy on you and your family and you dont blame yourself for his upbringing or lack therof.

  16. Thank you, Nathan Forest! The Clemmons Family has twisted the truth for 20 + years because it is too hard to face the fact of what their son did. You can play the race card all you want, Julie and Robin are dead and Reginald Clemmons is still here

    • Clemons' family has been through an unimagineably traumatic time with the knowledge that their son has had a looming execution for almost 20 years. It is clear from documented evidence that the case was flawed in many ways. The hearing would not have gone underway if this had not been realised.

  17. Rev.Thomas, You manipulated and abused the criminal justice system when your son was detained at St.Louis city jail by circumventing the rules of the facility with the help of your friend Warden Julian Boyd by entering the facility under the guise of clergy ministering to the inmates and only see your son with unrestricted contact 3 and 4 times a week and passing contraband and restricted items to him on more than one occasion. And now here comes the race card again,or I only said I did it because I was beat.Please.I guess the apple does'nt fall far from the tree!

  18. Reggie was there that night, he admits this fact. No one disputes this fact. And he took the 5th over 30 times in a recent hearing. That's not the actions of a totally innocent person. Death? No, not the death penalty. By releasing this person from prison I believe would be a grave mistake.

  19. There has been much dispute on this subject. There's not much more I can say other than: capital punishment is a complete violation of all we stand for and this boy should not be killed….no one should, no matter what the crime is.

  20. The case of reggie is one of the most controversial cases in the history of US and I don't think cases this controversial, in which doubt over his guiltiness still exists, should end in an execution.

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