Reggie Clemons faces execution in Missouri with no more evidence of wrong doing than Troy Davis. Like Davis, there is no physical evidence; there are police coercion allegations and a stacked jury in the Clemons case according to Amnesty International that called for public Tuesday to stop this execution.
Clemons, who has been on death row for eighteen years, was sentenced to death in St. Louis as an accomplice to a 1991 murder.
“There was no physical evidence and since allegations have arisen of police coercion, prosecutorial misconduct, and a ‘stacked’ jury in the Clemons case,” reported Amnesty International Tuesday.
“Despite so many lingering questions, Missouri is still planning to execute Reggie Clemons.”
The Clemons is yet another case illustrating the many flaws of the United States death penalty system.
“Of the four co-defendents, Marlin Gray and Reggie Clemons were sentenced to death, and Antonio Richardson was sentenced to life,” the St. Louis American had reported in 2009 when Clemmons execution date had been set for that summer.
“Daniel Winfrey – the only defendant who is not black – made a plea bargain, was sentenced to 30 years and was freed on parole on June 4, 2007, according to the Missouri Department of Corrections.”
Soon after the 2009 execution date was stayed, the Missouri Supreme Court assigned a judge (a “Special Master”) to investigate reliability of his conviction and proportionality of his sentence according to Amnesty International.
Amnesty International is urging the state of Missouri to “recognize the serious problems with Reggie Clemons’ case and to commute his death sentence.”
The human rights organization is also urging the public to join the campaign to urge Missouri Governor Jay Nixon to stop the execution. Amnesty’s petition to Governor Nixon explains the case:
“In the interest of justice, I urge you to grant Reggie Clemons clemency. Mr. Clemons was sentenced to death in St. Louis as an accomplice in the 1991 murder of two young white women, Julie and Robin Kerry. Two other black youths were also convicted, including Marlin Gray (executed in 2005). Clemons has consistently maintained his innocence, and his case illustrates many of the flaws in the U.S. death penalty system.
While I have tremendous sympathy for the family and friends of Julie and Robin Kerry, and am mindful of the pain and grief that they have experienced, I believe capital punishment only perpetuates a harmful cycle of violence.
I am particularly troubled by the lack of physical evidence in this case, allegations of police coercion and prosecutorial misconduct, questions of inadequate legal representation and questions of race, and finally, what appears to have been a “stacked” jury.
At the time of the trial, the prosecution conceded that Clemons neither killed the victims nor planned the crime because there was no physical evidence that tied him to the crime itself or the events leading up to it. The two main witnesses were a former suspect and a co-defendant.
Clemons alleges that under the pressure of police brutality he confessed to raping one of the victims, though never to murder. Four federal judges have agreed that the prosecutor’s conduct during the trial was ‘abusive and boorish.’ And Clemons’ lawyer had a full-time job in another state during her representation of Mr. Clemons, resulting in poor preparation for the trial.
The final issue when considering the case of Mr. Clemons is that of race. Not only were the murder victims white, but the two crucial witnesses were as well. The three convicted defendants were black, and during the jury selection, blacks were disproportionately dismissed, resulting in an unrepresentative jury given the sizable black population of St. Louis. The jury’s flaws were also noted in 2002 by a U.S. District Court judge who ruled that Clemons’ death sentence should not stand because six prospective jurors had been improperly excluded at the jury selection. Later a high court overturned this ruling on technical grounds.
While I am sympathetic to the pain and suffering caused by this terrible crime, I feel that executing Reggie Clemons would be unfair and unjust. It is clear that Mr. Clemons’ trial was flawed in numerous regards and that serious questions persist regarding the reliability of his conviction and the proportionality of his sentence. I hope that you will follow this recommendation and commute the death sentence of Reggie Clemons.
Troy Davis was executed September 21, 2011, a deep human rights abuse scar on the United States, one unlikely to heal until the nation’s death penalty and solitary confinement units are abolished.
To sign the petition, see Stop the Execution of Reggie Clemons in Missouri.