Death Row Inmate: "The Final Call newspaper helped to save my life"
Call for Reggie Clemons' freedom continues; new evidence revealed
By Jesse Muhammad
(FinalCall.com) - By listening to the upbeat tone of his voice on the phone, one could not tell that Reginald Clemons has been on death row in the state of Missouri for half of his life for a crime he says he didn't commit.
Last year he was on the brink of having his life ended before being granted a stay of execution and now he is cautiously optimistic about an upcoming hearing on May 10.
“I know that God has put me through all of this for a purpose. I don't know what purpose it is but I would not still be here without the prayers and works of my family and supporters,” said Mr. Clemons to The Final Call in a March 15 telephone interview.
“Last year I was staring death in the face but I am alive to keep fighting. I know it was due in large part to the support of Minister Farrakhan and the story that appeared in The Final Call newspaper. The Final Call helped to save my life. Without that story my plight would not have spread as fast and my wrongful execution would have been carried out in darkness,” said Mr. Clemons, 38, referring to the article appearing in FCN Volume 28 No. 35 dated June 9, 2009.
According to Mr. Clemons, at the upcoming hearing in May, Judge Michael Manners of Jackson County will either decide to give him a new trial, set a new execution date or recommend his immediate release.
“It is very unprecedented that they would bring in a judge from another jurisdiction but they wanted someone who could look at this case objectively. I hope he will see the crookedness that has been done by the prosecutor in this case the entire time,” said Mr. Clemons.
On March 8, the Missouri Attorney General's office asked that Judge Manners consider some evidence that has been held in cold storage at the police department's crime lab. According to the letter from the AG's office to the judge “the state has discovered three laboratory reports and certain physical evidence, including what is commonly referred to as a rape kit. The evidence had not been previously disclosed as part of the state's case against Mr. Clemons,” the letter said.
“Why was this evidence withheld all this time? This further shows the prosecutorial misconduct of Nel Moss,” said Mr. Clemons, who also has several inventions that he is seeking to get patented while imprisoned.
Mr. Clemons was convicted and sentenced to death in connection with the 1991 deaths of two White siblings, Robin and Julie Kerry, who drowned after falling from the Chain of the Rocks Bridge into the Mississippi River. Mr. Clemons has maintained his innocence and has stated that he gave coerced confessions after suffering multiple beatings from St. Louis Metropolitan police detectives.
On June 17, 2009, Mr. Clemons was scheduled to be executed by lethal injection before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit granted a stay. On June 30, the Missouri Supreme Court appointed Judge Manners as special master to review Mr. Clemons' case.
“The appointment of a special master to a case like this is unheard of in the judicial history of St. Louis. This is only a testament to the intensified efforts on the ground. This new hearing gives us hope but we still have to wait to see what the judge decides,” said Zaki Baruti of the Universal African Peoples Organization.
Jamala Rogers, lead coordinator of the “Justice For Reggie” campaign, told The Final Call that the stay of execution was a victory and agrees that the grassroots mobilization has impacted this case.
“Missouri has never seen such a mobilization upsurge like this surrounding a case like they have seen for Reggie. He deserves his day in court. We're not stopping. We are still encouraging everyone to sign the petitions online because we want Reggie totally free,” said Ms. Rogers, who has worked alongside Vera Thomas, Mr. Clemons' mother, and this legal defense team.
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