St. Louis Will Retry|Capital Murder Case | Courthouse News Service
Tuesday, November 28, 2023
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St. Louis Will Retry|Capital Murder Case

ST. LOUIS (CN) - The St. Louis city prosecutor said Monday that she will retry a man whose murder conviction was thrown out in November by the Missouri Supreme Court.

Reginald Clemons was sentenced to death for the 1991 murders of sisters Julie Kerry, 20, and Robin Kerry, 19.

Clemons, now 44, was one of four men convicted of raping and killing the sisters.

The Kerrys took their cousin, Thomas Cummins, then 19, to the old unused Chain of Rocks Bridge over the Mississippi River between Missouri and Illinois to show him a poem they had written there.

On the bridge they encountered a group of men that allegedly included Clemons, who raped the sisters and forced them and Cummins off the bridge. Only Cummins survived.

In a 118-page, 4-3 decision , the Missouri Supreme Court threw out Clemons' conviction, finding that prosecutors withheld evidence that he may have been beaten to force a confession.

The high court refused to rule on Clemons' guilt or innocence and gave St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce 60 days to decide whether to retry the case.

Joyce said Monday that she will seek the death penalty again, and added charges of forcible rape and first-degree robbery.

Prosecutors originally included two rape charges against Clemons, but at the time law prohibited them from seeking both the murder and rape charges because they sought the death penalty. The rape charges were dismissed after Clemons was sentenced to death.

Joyce said in a statement Monday: "While this is a heartbreaking and emotionally charged case for this community, I believe we have the evidence needed to pursue charges and hold Mr. Clemons accountable for the crimes he committed against Julie and Robin Kerry and Thomas Cummins."

Joyce said that DNA testing corroborates the state's case against Clemons and the two other men convicted in the case, Marlin Gray and Antonio Richardson.

Gray has been executed. Richardson is serving life without parole. A fourth man, Daniel Winfrey, testified in exchange for a 30-year term and has been paroled.

Clemons' attorney, Joshua Levine, with Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in New York, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "We're disappointed that the circuit attorney has decided to pursue a retrial, but we have no further comment at this time."

Cummins, then 19, of Maryland, was the original suspect and confessed to police. But he recanted and in 1995 he received a $150,000 settlement from St. Louis police for his claim that his confession was beaten out of him.

Clemons is still in prison, serving a 15-year sentence, after being convicted of assaulting a Department of Corrections employee.

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