ST. LOUIS – A new attorney is taking over the Bertha Owens murder case, which FOX 2 has covered exclusively for months. FOX 2 Investigative Reporter Chris Hayes sat down with the man who plans to take Owens’ battle from the tv screen to the courtroom.
Since last November, FOX 2 has followed the long-forgotten murder case, with no physical evidence, and a star witness who now says she lied on the witness stand.
Bertha Owens is serving a life sentence for a 1996 murder. Hayes sat down with her last year at her Chillicothe prison to ask her about the murder of a man with disabilities at this apartment complex in south St. Louis.
Owens said at the time, “In the beginning, they offered me 20 years and I was like well, I’m not going to take anything for something I don’t know nothing about.”
It happened at the California Garden Apartments in south St. Louis. Fred Huff lived on the first floor. Owens said she often hung out in a drug house on the second floor. On Oct. 18, 1996, Huff was beaten and robbed. He died 20 days later.
After the prison interview with Owens, FOX 2 tracked down the star witness who said she was pressured to lie by then prosecutor Nels Moss. Hayes also spoke to Owens’ original attorney who said Moss withheld evidence until right before trial.
Now 25 years after Bertha Owens’ conviction, Matt Radefeld is taking over the case. He said, “This one really stuck out to me more so than all of the other ones that people have contacted me about, and it really seems like this is something that has been overlooked.”
He said the alleged misconduct of the former prosecutor needs to be examined. Radefeld added, “He’s had numerous cases overturned based upon his indiscretions, his lack of turning over exculpatory evidence.”
He said getting a judge to agree to a new hearing, however, might not be easy. “The hardest thing is,” Radefeld said, “What’s the avenue you take in order to bring these things to light? That’s one of the most difficult parts of dealing with these types of cases.”
He’ll start by pouring over the 1998 trial transcript and attempting to interview the former star witness the FOX Files tracked down.
“I’m looking forward to getting to the bottom of this case,” Radefeld said, adding, “and trying to figure out the true path to justice here.”
The murder victim’s relative also recently reached out to Hayes, asking to remain anonymous, but said this case renewed a tremendous amount of trauma in the family. The relative told Hayes that Huff was beaten viciously and could not cry out because a throat surgery forced him to use a voice box.
The relative said Owens deserves a closer look at her case, but questions why anyone should believe her new story. These are issues the FOX Files will track in future court hearings.