The drama was starting to build. We got a glimpse of what to expect as the
March 5 hearing for Reggie Clemons approached. Supporters of Reggie’s fanned
out across that state to rally for the cause. Detractors were busy with
mistruths and vitriol about the infamous Chain of Rocks Bridge incident.
Reggie Clemons, one of four co-defendants in that case, is on Missouri’s Death
Row for his alleged role in the deaths of Julie and Robin Kerry. The 1991
tragedy has all the makings for a Hollywood movie, but this is real life. The
20-year-old case has directly and permanently changed the lives of the 6
families involved. Because Reggie is facing death in a case rife with
contradictions, it is not surprising that his case is finally receiving
international attention despite its long and arduous road.
Reggie’s hearing before the Special Master appointed to review a case that once
had been slammed shut (with a death date stamped on it) is now set for
Mark Reardon, a talk show host on KMOX radio, said he was all for putting a
needle in Reggie’s arm, referring to the process of lethal injection used in
Missouri. This wretched view was interjected in his interview with Jeanine
Cummins, sister of Thomas Cummins and cousin to the Kerry sisters. Thomas
Cummins was first charged with the murder of his cousins because of his
confession and failure to pass a lie detector test.
A rumor was started that the Reggie Clemons Foundation has a lot of money. I
can only surmise that this was done to discourage people from doing acts of
service free of charge and to alert others that their donations aren’t needed.
I know of no such “foundation” but, as coordinator of the Justice for Reggie
Campaign, if some entity is perpetrating fraud, I need to know about it so I
can act on it appropriately. The campaign is selling buttons for a buck, and we
don’t have enough funds to re-order T-shirts that were also being sold to help
defray expenses. Reggie’s parents, the Thomases, have re-financed their modest
home more than once and were forced to file for bankruptcy – sacrifices made to
keep up with the fight for their son’s life. No one is getting rich on our
In a response to law professor Richard Stack’s commentary published in the
Post-Dispatch about troubling cases like Reggie’s and Troy Davis’, veteran Post
columnist Bill McClellan attacked with a rebuttal that showed his butt. He did
what most white people have done who are blinded by the racial elements of the
case: he just repeats what former prosecutor Nels Moss said back then about the
guilt of Reggie and his associates. They don’t seem to understand that
repeating mistruths is not equivalent to asserting facts.
The St. Louis American meticulously refuted McClellan’s claims in its editorial
last week. Anyone can seek the truth if they’re looking for it, and the rest of
us are obligated to speak truth to power.
Last week, the American Bar Association did just that. It released a report
entitled “Evaluating Fairness and Accuracy in State Death Penalty Systems: The
Missouri Death Penalty Assessment Report.” The panel of law professors,
private-sector attorneys and federal judges reviewed Missouri’s system as part
of the organization’s assessment of laws, procedures and practices of states
still utilizing the barbaric system. The report found several flaws in
Missouri’s system, from not preserving forensic evidence (such as DNA) to not
tracking racial statistics. Several recommendations were made for reform,
including narrowing the law so that only the most serious capital murder cases
are eligible for the death penalty.
Yes, the spotlight is shining on Missouri’s death penalty system. Some will run
like roaches into the cracks for cover. Some will distort the facts to confuse
the public. And some will fight for the day that we can’t execute innocent
(source: St. Louis American)