By Mike Owens
KSDK -- Some startling news for defense attorneys fighting to save the life of convicted murderer Reginald Clemons, who is sitting on death row.
Evidence in the case against him has been found in the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department evidence room, evidence never produced at trial.
Clemons and three other men were convicted or pleaded guilty to raping and murdering sisters Julie and Robin Kerry in April 1991. The women had taken the men, and their cousin, to the closed Chain of Rocks Bridge in north St. Louis, to show them some poetry they had written.
The women were attacked and forced to jump off the bridge to their deaths. The body of 19-year-old Robin Kerry was never found; the body of 21-year-old Julie was found in the river several days later.
The murder case has taken turns and twists ever since it shocked the community.
The latest twist happened last week, when the man who prosecuted the suspects told the Missouri Attorney General's office that evidence in the case was at police headquarters.
Nels Moss was the assistant circuit attorney in the case, who is now in private practice. He's not returning phone calls.
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster says the newly discovered evidence is a so-called rape kit, which is a swab of material that could hold DNA. Also included are several laboratory reports.
For some reason, the evidence was never revealed during requests for evidence during four separate trials.
Redditt Hudson is the program manager at the St. Louis office of the American Civil Liberties Union. He says it was beyond belief that this has happened. He also accused Moss of further misconduct. Moss has been under fire for years for being "too aggressive" as a prosecutor. Others say it borders on misconduct.
What the evidence contains will be a matter for the courts. On May 10, the special judge appointed to oversee the murder case of Reginald Clemons will have a hearing on the evidence.
Nine months ago, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit stayed Clemons' execution. The court based the decision on a pending challenge to Missouri's lethal injection.
The letter from Koster is below:
Re: Reginald Clemons v. Steve Larkins, Case No. SC90197
Dear Judge Manners:
The purpose of this letter is to inform the court of the possible existence of previously undisclosed evidence relating to the matter of State of Missouri v. Reginald Clemons. In this office's review of the underlying evidence in this case, the state has discovered three laboratory reports and certain physical evidence, including what is commonly referred to as a "rape kit," taken as part of a medical examination performed on the victim following the discovery of the victim's remains.
By this letter, the state of Missouri requests that a hearing be scheduled to determine an appropriate protocol for the testing and dissemination of the test results of the biological evidence in question.
Following the deposition on Tuesday, March 2, of Mr. Nels Moss, the prosecuting attorney who originally tried Mr. Clemons, Mr. Moss informed two assistant attorneys general that he had recently been told of the existence of a rape kit located at the St. Louis Police Department Crime Lab. Mr. Moss stated that he had no prior knowledge of this rape kit, raising the inference that the evidence had not been previously disclosed as part of the state's case against Mr. Clemons. The Attorney General's Office then contacted the St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office, who assisted in identifying three laboratory reports and certain biological samples in cold storage at the crime lab.
The Attorney General's Office obtained copies of these reports on March 3, 2010, and disclosed them to Petitioner on March 4. This office is unable to confirm at this time whether the aforementioned evidence was provided to defense counsel at the time of the underlying criminal trial.
By this letter, and because of the importance of this case, the Attorney General's Office seeks to advise the court of these circumstances immediately.