Reginald Clemons

Pool photo provided by St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The new evidentiary hearing for Missouri death row inmate Reginald Clemons ended Thursday afternoon on a high note for the State of Missouri, which is defending its conviction of Clemons for first degree murder in response to a writ of habeas corpus challenging that conviction that Clemons filed with the Missouri Supreme Court.

The state called DNA analysts from the Missouri Highway Patrol and a private company that performs paternity tests to present data concerning a used condom found on the Chain of Rocks Bridge the morning after the April 4, 1991 events and from boxer shorts and pants that Clemons’ codefendant Marlin Gray wore that night.

Though the evidence dates back to Clemons’ 1993 jury trial, more sensitive DNA analytics developed since then now make it possible to develop DNA profiles from the scant amount of DNA material left on the objects, the DNA analysts testified.

The new DNA profiles conform to the state’s case that Robin Kerry and Julie Kerry endured a group rape on the bridge. DNA with female characteristics extracted from the condom matches DNA with female characteristics extracted from Gray’s boxers and pants, according to Stacey Bolinger, DNA analyst for the Missouri Highway Patrol. And according to Kim Gorman, DNA analyst for Paternity Testing Corp. in Columbia, this female DNA is 99.99 percent (“and really many more 9s than that”) more likely to be a daughter of the Kerry girls’ parents than a random person, according to comparisons to the parents’ DNA profiles.

The DNA on both Gray’s shorts and pants was subjected to a process that separates out sperm cells, enabling a separation of male DNA profiles. The male DNA on his shorts contains a mixture of at least two individuals, Bolinger said, and neither Gray nor Clemons could be eliminated from a possible match, based on a comparison to their DNA profiles. She said the male DNA on Gray’s pants contains a mixture of at least three individuals, and Gray, Clemons and their codefendant Antonio Richardson could not be eliminated from a possible match.

Under cross examination by Andrew Lacy of Clemons’ legal team, Bolinger said there was no exact DNA match for Clemons in any of the evidence. She also said there is no test for how old DNA is or when it was deposited, so no way to confirm that this DNA dates back to the crimes. “Contamination is possible,” Bolinger admitted. She also said the DNA separated out for sperm “could be non-sperm.”

Gray, Richardson and Clemons all were convicted of first degree murder of the Kerry sisters in three separate trials in 1993, and all were sentenced to death. Clemons was charged with rape in the incident, but has never been tried for rape.

On Wednesday, Clemons refused to answer 29 questions from the state on grounds his answer could incriminate him. Initially, he pled the 5th Amendment 32 times, but after Judge Michael Manners encouraged him to meet with counsel to rethink his decision, Clemons answered three of those questions.

Previously, he answered four questions about the crimes posed by Andrew Lacy of his legal team: “Did you kill Robin or Julie Kerry?” “Were you aware of any plan to kill Robin or Julie Kerry?” “Did you intend to kill Robin or Julie Kerry?” “Did you intend to assist in the killing of Robin or Julie Kerry?”

To all four questions, Clemons answered, “No.”

In 2003 Richardson’s sentence was commuted to life without possibility of parole because his death sentence was imposed by a judge when the jury could not decide. Gray was executed in 2005. Clemons was scheduled for execution in 2009 when a federal court granted a stay while a federal appeal was pending, and then the Missouri Supreme Court surprisingly appointed a Special Master, Judge Michael Manners, to convene a new evidentiary hearing.

This hearing was held Monday through Thursday as a special hearing of the Missouri Supreme Court in the St. Louis Circuit Court. Judge Manners next will submit his findings to the Missouri Supreme Court, which will then consider Clemons’ writ of habeas corpus. Clemons has petitioned both to receive a new trial and to have his death penalty vacated because it is not proportional, given his age at the time of the crime (19), his lack of a prior criminal record and the fact that he was convicted as an accomplice.

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(8) comments

Mad Man

Justus...the "white man?" Cleamons had a chance to pronounce his innocence and he took the fifth. That's his constitutional right but it casts doubt on his innocence. If you are firmly entrenched in the Reggie is innocent camp that's fine. Just don't blame it on the white man. That's a weak argument...and I'm black.


No, a used condom does not mean that a rape has occurred, but ... A used condom, a dead body, a missing body, an eye witness, 4 confessions, the victim/witness's stolen property in the possession of rapist/murderer/thief Gray, the DNA from the found body of rape/murder victim combined with the DNA of murderer/rapist Gray and murderer/rapist Clemons on the pants and underwear of Gray all combined with the 32 invocations of the 5th amendment by Clemons regarding his actions on the night of the crime does mean that at the very least a double gang rape and double murder occurred. But for some people, even a thousand AA eye witnesses and a video tape of the entire incident, still wouldn't be enough for some people acknowledge the truth!


Does a used condom mean that a rape has occurred?


Justus, did you even read the article? The "white man" didn't write it, an African American wrote it. If there was no rape then how was it that the "white female" victims' DNA along with Clemons and Gray' was found on Gray's pants and underwear? If you recall, they were thrown off the bridge so their DNA wasn't planted there after the fact. Also, the DNA tests they used for this hearing didn't even exist in 1991.

BTW, I noticed that the lawyers representing Reggie were all white. I guess we shouldn't believe them either?


There was never any evidence that a rape occurred. There was also no evidence of murder. Everything around this case points to the cousin. This was a matter between Cummins and his two cousins. The black boys became involved when the police found a flashlight on the bridge tracing it back to them. Cummins story changed several time and the one that was told last makes no sense. You don't swim the muddy Mississippi in high or no current and come out clean and dry from the waist up. I just hope Reggie gets a new trial, at the least because I think a lot more will be revealed. If all we are going to believe is what the "White Man" tells us to believe, why read...why comment? He's never going to tell us the truth....only what he wants us to believe.

Mad Man

I don't know what Mr. Clemons is guilty of but he is certainly guilty of something as it relates to the rape/murder of the victims.


Even when the writer of the story acknowledges that the DNA evidence presented establishes Clemons' guilt, the St. Lunatics still grasp to the notion that it's all an elaborate conspiracy to pick on poor Reggie. When the St. Louis American says it looks bad for Reggie, man - it really looks bad for Reggie.


Still so many unanswered questions and absurd allegations by Cummins that don't add up no matter how bad in math one may be.

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