The two St. Louis Metropolitan Police detectives who took Reginald Clemons’ confession on April 7, 1991 took the witness stand on the second day of the new evidentiary hearing ordered in his case by the Missouri Supreme Court, September 19, 2012.
Susan Boresi, who argued the hearing for the Missouri Attorney General, called first Joseph Brauer and then Chris Pappas. Josh Levine, representing Clemons, cross-examined both of the former detectives, now retired.
Both detectives testified that they did not threaten or strike Clemons and that Clemons’ confession was “free and voluntary.”
Clemons confessed to raping Robin Kerry on April 4, 1991 as part of a group rape where Marlin Gray and Antonio Richardson both raped her and her sister Julie Kerry on the Chain of Rocks Bridge and then Richardson pushed them both off the bridge. Two days later, Clemons recanted his confession, claiming it was coerced and scripted. At the hearing, Clemons testified that Pappas and Brauer provided him with a “crib sheet” to guide his confession.
Brauer and Pappas denied this at the hearing, though Brauer did testify that he and Pappas brought out the recording equipment for Clemons’ confession “after he had his story straight.”
Pappas also testified that he did not threaten, strike or deny counsel to Thomas Cummins during Cummins’ interrogation in 1991. Cummins, the first suspect in the murder of the Kerry girls (his cousins), confessed to making a sexual advance at Julie Kerry and then pushing her off the bridge during the ensuing argument. According to police, he told them he wasn’t sure if he pushed Robin Kerry off the bridge or if she jumped in after her sister.
Cummins recanted his confession, claiming it was coerced and scripted, citing many of the same details from Clemons’ complaint.
At the hearing, Pappas testified that “Mr. Cummins’ father was present” when he interrogated Cummins. According to the police report introduced as evidence at Clemons’ trial, Cummins’ father left the interrogation room with Detective Richard Trevor before Pappas obtained Cummins’ confession along with Lieutenant Steven Jacobsmeyer.
In a deposition for the hearing, Cummins claimed Jacobsmeyer threatened to put him in the hospital and provide witnesses that he did not harm Cummins. Jacobsmeyer did not testify at the hearing.
Pappas was named personally in the lawsuit Cummins filed against the police department and the detectives who interrogated him, which the City of St. Louis settled for $150,000 after Clemons and two co-defendants, Marlin Gray and Antonio Richardson, were convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death.
Pappas testified at the hearing that he had no personal knowledge of Cummins’ lawsuit. Clemons’ counsel Levine said to Pappas, “You have no personal knowledge of a lawsuit where you were named as a defendant?”
On the third day of the hearing, September 20, Boresi called Kevin Huelsmann. Now retired, he was the lieutenant in Internal Affairs who conducted the investigation into Clemons’ and Gray’s claims that their confessions were involuntary. Huelsmann testified that he found no evidence for Clemons’ or Gray’s claims and that Internal Affairs recommended no disciplinary action against Pappas and Brauer.
Before dismissing Huelsmann, Judge Manners directed a telling question to the witness. He asked if anyone invoked the 5th Amendment – the right to refuse to answer a question if doing so might incriminate you – during his investigation into Clemons’ claims of police misconduct.
Huelsmann answered yes, Pappas and Brauer both refused to testify in his 1991 Internal Affairs investigation on grounds that their answers might incriminate them.