JEFFERSON CITY, MO (KTVI) – The Missouri Supreme Court tossed out a pair of murder convictions against a man who sat on death row for more than 20 years after sentencing in an infamous double-murder case at the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge.
Reginald Clemons was one of four people tried and convicted in the April 1991 rape and murder of sisters Julie and Robin Kerry. Clemons, who was convicted on two counts of first-degree murder, was sentenced to death in 1993. The Kerry sisters went to the bridge with their cousin when they were confronted by a group of men. Their cousin testified the men raped 20-year-old Julie and 19-year-old Robin before forcing them to jump into the Mississippi River. Only the cousin survived the ordeal.
Clemons long maintained his innocence, saying he was not involved in either the rape or murder of the Kerry sisters. One of the other three men convicted was sentenced to 30 years in prison after cooperating with prosecutors and testifying during the trial. Clemons and the other two co-defendants were sentenced to death at the time. One of those defendants was executed in October 2005, while the other had his sentence reduced to life without the possibility of parole.
The Supreme Court threw out those convictions in a 4-3 ruling and ordered the case back to the local circuit court. The local court has 60 days to retry Clemons. If the court does not retry Clemons, the case will be dismissed. However, Clemons will remain in prison for a conviction in an unrelated case.
The court appointed a retired judge to review the case, who determined Clemons was beaten by police into confessing his involvement and that prosecutors later suppressed evidence during trial.
The St. Louis Circuit Attorney's office released this statement:
We have been informed of the Supreme Court's decision regarding the case against Reginald Clemons. At this time, there is work to do prior to determining our next steps. Prosecutors within the Circuit Attorney's Office will review the Court's decision in its entirety. As this crime occurred almost 25 years ago, we will need to review the State's evidence, determine the availability of witnesses and reporting officers in the case, and discuss our options with the victims' family. Once we have completed this process, we will then determine the appropriate course of action within the allotted period of time.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the friends and family of Julie and Robin Kerry.
Fox 2 News will have more information on this story as it becomes available.