Convicted Chain of Rocks killer was coerced, judge says

News-DemocratAugust 7, 2013 

AP GRAPHIC

The Missouri Supreme Court will review the case of a man convicted and sentenced to death for raping and murdering two women on the Chain of Rocks Bridge in April 1991.

Circuit judge Michael Manners asked to review Reginald Clemons' conviction revealed in his report that, Clemons failed to prove a "gateway claim of actual innocence."

But there was support for his claim that he was beaten by police into making a confession. The Supreme Court will decide if Clemons will be granted a new trial because of the new information.

According to the report, a jailhouse employee testified that he saw swelling on Clemons' face after he was interviewed by two investigators. When they were questioned about the alleged beating, the investigators refused to testify, citing the Fifth Amendment.

Manners, who retired last month, also wrote that he believed evidence in the case was suppressed.

Clemons' case gained the attention and support of the human rights organization Amnesty International. It's leaders stopped short Wednesday of calling for Clemons' release.

"Given the deeply flawed nature of his trial, Amnesty International hopes that the state's highest court will move to eliminate any possibility that Reggie Clemons might be executed," Amnesty International spokeswoman Natale Butz wrote in a release about the report.

Clemons was convicted in 1993 and sentenced to death for the rape and murder of Robin Kerry, 19, and Julie Kerry, 20.

After the women were assaulted they and a male cousin who was restrained while the women were attacked were forced to jump off the bridge into the river below. The male, Tom Cummins, survived the 70-foot drop into the river. The women did not. Three other men were also convicted in the case.

Daniel Winfrey pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. He was been released from prison on parole. Marlin Gray was executed in 2005 for his role in the crime. The death sentence for co-defendant Antonio Richardson was overturned by the Missouri Supreme Court in 1993 because he had been sentenced by a judge after jurors deadlocked without agreeing on the factors needed for the death penalty.

Contact reporter Scott Wuerz at swuerz@bnd.com or call 239-2626.

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