ST. LOUIS – Prior to stepping down as St. Louis Circuit Attorney, one of Kim Gardner’s last actions was filing a motion to vacate the 1991 murder conviction of Christopher Dunn.
Several months after Gardner’s resignation, the effort to vacate Dunn’s conviction is one that new circuit attorney Gabe Gore is following closely. In a recent one-on-one interview with the Missouri Independent, Gore said a review of the case is ongoing and is of “high priority” to his office.
Dunn has spent 33 years in prison for the 1990 shooting death of Ricco Rogers. His initial sentence was life behind bars plus 90 years. Dunn has maintained his innocence in the murder.
Gardner believed there was clear and convincing evidence pointing to a wrongful conviction, so she asked the St. Louis Circuit Court to overturn the verdict. As recently as June, Gore filed to withdraw his predecessor’s motion, but on the condition of a full review of Dunn’s conviction.
In July, retired Missouri appellate judge Booker Shaw was appointed to review the conviction. The process involves evaluating transcripts and proceedings from 2020 tied to the murder case.
In 2020, a Circuit Court judge reviewed old evidence and recanted testimony from two prosecution witnesses. At the time, Missouri only allowed people sentenced to death row to argue for an overturned conviction. A new law in 2021 changed that, recently leading to the exoneration of Lamar Johnson in St. Louis and Kevin Strickland in Kansas City.
After nearly a month of review, Gore told the Missouri Independent that the timetable for a decision on this conviction remains unclear. The Midwest Innocence Project, an organization that also supported Johnson in his vacated conviction, tells the Independent, “We remain hopeful” on what comes out of the review.