A man whose conviction was thrown out by the Missouri Supreme Court will be retried, according to prosecutors, who now claim they have DNA evidence to obtain a conviction for the murder and rape of two sisters in 1991.
The man was one of four arrested in connection with the rape and murder of two sisters on the Chain of Rocks Bridge. All four were convicted and three were sentenced to death, while the fourth received 30 years after cooperating with the prosecution. One of the men has been executed, one had his sentence changed to life without parole, and the third man has been released.
This case involves allegations that police beat a confession out of the man and that the jury was permitted to hear the questionable confession. The difficulty with this type of prosecution now is that the man may be innocent or he may be guilty, but because of police and prosecutorial misconduct, we may never really know.
And for the prosecution, that is a significant problem, because their burden is guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. While the prosecution may claim they have DNA evidence linking the man to the killing, the coerced confession itself may create a reasonable doubt.
After all, if the police had been so certain of his guilt, what would have been the need to beat a confession out of him? They also offered a lenient sentence to one of the four, a sentence that has led to that man’s parole.
A report written up by a pre-trial officer after the man’s interrogation noted he had bruises or bumps on his face. The pre-trial officer later found his report had been modified to remove these references and he was also interviewed by an attorney from the prosecutor’s office. He then felt pressured to remain quiet about the incident.
For those who believe in law and order, this type of conduct by police corrupts the system and make enforcement of the law impossible by creating reasonable and irresolvable doubt.
Source: stltoday.com, “Prosecutors will retry Reginald Clemons in Chain of Rocks murders,” Jeremy Kohler, January 25, 2016