Friday, May 29, 2009

Reginald Clemons files stay of execution in 8th Circuit

This afternoon counsel for Reginald Clemons filed for a stay of execution in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit.

Clemons is one of several inmates on Missouri death row who have filed a consolidated appeal to the constitutionality of their being executed by the State of Missouri.

The appeal pending before the 8th circuit argues that because the Missouri Department of Corrections has a history of hiring incompetent staff for its execution team, whose errors result in excruciating pain for the condemned at death, there is reason to believe proceeding with execution would violate the constitutional protection against cruel and unusual punishment.

The filing today argues that rejecting Clemons' request for a stay and proceeding with the execution would result in "irreparable harm" to Clemons should he be executed and the pending consolidated appeal subsequently be upheld by the 8th Circuit.

Clemons' counsel also requested time for a "modest" process of discovery in pursuing their appeal, such as deposing current Corrections staff and investigating their record.

Last week, the Missouri Supreme Court rejected a stay of execution for Clemons based on the pending federal appeal. Two attorneys who work for the State of Missouri, speaking on background, considered it more likely that the court considering the appeal - the 8th Circuit - would grant a stay based on the pending appeal.

Clemons, who was convicted in 1993 as an accomplice in the murders of Robin Kerry and Julie Kerry and sentenced to death, is scheduled to be executed on June 17.

Clemons claimed two days after his confession in 1991 that the confession was rehearsed and coerced by St. Louis Metropolitan Police detectives. This allegedly rehearsed and coerced confession was to rape, not to murder. Clemons was charged with rape in the case but has never been tried for it.

Clemons has long claimed he is innocent on all charges. For many years he has requested that the State of Missouri try him on the charge of rape, as it has never done, although jurors were instructed to consider the charge of rape as a sentence enhancer when they condemned Clemons to death.

"There was no evidence of rape, yet it was used to enflame the passions of the public and the passions of the jury," Clemons said today in a phone call from death row.

"The best thing I can do is try to push the rape charge to trial and try to void the premise they are using to push this execution."

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