Reginald Clemons’ re-trial begins with new charges and evidence

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - The process of re-trying Reginald Clemons for the murders of Robin and Julie Kerry is underway in St. Louis. It`s beginning with an indictment against Clemons on new charges.

The St. Louis Circuit Attorney announced back in January she would be seeking rape and robbery charges against Reginald Clemons.  Neither Clemons nor his lawyers knew about he had been indicted on those charges until they came to court Wednesday afternoon for a pre-trial hearing.

Clemons is being re-tried for the 1991 murders of Robin and Julie Kerry after they were raped and then forced to jump to their deaths from the Old Chain Of Rocks Bridge.

In court Wednesday Clemons sat between two state appointed public defenders who just got his case this week. The indictment presented in court was handed down Tuesday by the grand jury charging Clemons with two counts of forcible rape and one count of robbery.  These are charges he did not face the first time around.

According to court documents new evidence not available at the first trial shows DNA recovered at the scene is a match consistent with Clemons` DNA to a degree of one in 16,690 individuals in the African-American population.

The robbery charge is related to the theft of a watch from Tom Cummins, a cousin of the sisters who was also forced to jump from the bridge, but he survived.

During Wednesday's court appearance a tentative date for jury section was set for July 18th.  That could easily change if the Circuit Attorney decides to try Clemons on the new charges at the same time he is retried on the murder charge.

"Next month it will be 25 years since Robin and Julie Kerry were murdered. Obviously we would like to proceed as soon as possible in bringing Mr. Clemons to justice. However, having said that, he will have new trial at this point.  In order for him to have a fair trial his attorneys are going to have time to review the case and prepare their defense." said St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce.

"It's like a roller coaster or an hour glass.  Its both of those.  But we will stand steadfast.  The truth will prevail. I do believe that." said Clemons' mother Vera Thomas.

Clemons` appeal for a new trial had been handled for free by a New York law firm.  Now that a new trial has been granted, they are no longer involved.  His family says it`s because they were litigators, not criminal lawyers.  That`s why Clemons is now be represented by state appointed public defenders.

The two attorneys he appeared with Wednesday said they had an unspecified potential conflict that might require new public defenders be appointed from a different part of the state.  The judge is giving Clemons until Monday to decide if he wants new attorneys.

Reginald Clemons was originally tried and sentenced to death in 1993.  He was granted a new trial last year because of evidence not presented at the first trial supporting his claim he confessed only after being beaten by police.

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