Missouri Supreme Court Hears Death Sentence Appeal
Last week, the State Supreme Court heard the case of Reginald Clemons – a Missouri man who claimed that law enforcement had physically assaulted him in order to obtain a confession. The case is centered on Clemons' appeal to have both his conviction and death sentence overturned. In 1991, Clemons was one of four men convicted for the rape and murders of two women on the Chain of Rocks Bridge in St. Louis.
In 2009, a Jackson County Circuit Judge appointed a Special Master to review the case. Three years later, the special master released his findings and stated that Clemons was beat by authorities and coerced into making a false confession for the crimes. A former bail investigator who had seen Clemons shortly after being arrested had noticed a large bump on his face. Additionally, the original suspect in the case had also allegedly been beaten by police into confessing. He ultimately received a $150,000 settlement and was not charged in the murders. The state is alleged to have suppressed this information at trial.
Because Clemons' confession was crucial in the case against him, questions must now be raised about whether the Supreme Court can allow his conviction and death sentence to stand. State attorneys argued that a new trial would not have a different outcome, as physical evidence and a co-defendant's statement links Clemons to the scene and events of the crime.
The co-defendant who had implicated Clemons and another co-defendant received a second-degree murder conviction in exchange, and was paroled in 2007. One defendant was executed in 2005 and the other had his death sentence commuted to life without parole. From the outside, this case appears to have significant reason to warrant an appeal. The Missouri Supreme Court has not yet ruled on the case.
State & Federal Appeals in Missouri
Clemons case is a perfect example of the complexities that exist within serious criminal cases and appeals. As these cases also call into question the effectiveness and fairness of our criminal justice system, securing the right resolution is all the more important.
At The Hammer Law Firm, St. Louis Criminal Defense Attorney Nicole Chiravollatti handles all of the firm's state and federal appeals cases. Last year, she argued before the Missouri Court of Appeals Western District on a second-degree murder "cold case." As a law student, Ms. Chiravollatti was the school's first place winner for appellate advocacy and competed at the regional championship, where she made it to the semi-finals. Nicole brings her passion, talent, and experience to this particular practice area to help clients facing many years in prison.
If you or your loved one would like more information about pursuing a criminal appeal in St. Louis or the state of Missouri, contact us.