segunda-feira, 17 de janeiro de 2011
Stop the Execution of Reggie Clemons.
Mr. President Obama.
Grant Clemency for Reggie Clemens
Reggie Clemons was sentenced to death in St. Louis as an accomplice in the 1991 murder of two young white women, Julie and Robin Kerry, who plunged from the Chain of Rocks Bridge into the Mississippi River. Two other black youths were also convicted, including Marlin Gray (executed in 2005). Clemons has consistently maintained his innocence. His case illustrates many of the flaws in the U.S. death penalty system.
In the interest of justice, I urge you to grant Reggie Clemons clemency. Mr. Clemons was sentenced to death in St. Louis as an accomplice in the 1991 murder of two young white women, Julie and Robin Kerry. Two other black youths were also convicted, including Marlin Gray (executed in 2005). Clemons has consistently maintained his innocence, and his case illustrates many of the flaws in the U.S. death penalty system.
While I have tremendous sympathy for the family and friends of Julie and Robin Kerry, and am mindful of the pain and grief that they have experienced, I believe capital punishment only perpetuates a harmful cycle of violence.
I am particularly troubled by the lack of physical evidence in this case, allegations of police coercion and prosecutorial misconduct, questions of inadequate legal representation and questions of race, and finally, what appears to have been a "stacked" jury.
At the time of the trial, the prosecution conceded that Clemons neither killed the victims nor planned the crime because there was no physical evidence that tied him to the crime itself or the events leading up to it. The two main witnesses were a former suspect and a co-defendant.
Clemons alleges that under the pressure of police brutality he confessed to raping one of the victims, though never to murder. Four federal judges have agreed that the prosecutor's conduct during the trial was "abusive and boorish." And Clemons' lawyer had a full-time job in another state during her representation of Mr. Clemons, resulting in poor preparation for the trial.
The final issue when considering the case of Mr. Clemons is that of race. Not only were the murder victims white, but the two crucial witnesses were as well. The three convicted defendants were black, and during the jury selection, blacks were disproportionately dismissed, resulting in an unrepresentative jury given the sizable black population of St. Louis. The jury's flaws were also noted in 2002 by a U.S. District Court judge who ruled that Clemons' death sentence should not stand because six prospective jurors had been improperly excluded at the jury selection. Later a high court overturned this ruling on technical grounds.
While I am sympathetic to the pain and suffering caused by this terrible crime, I feel that executing Reggie Clemons would be unfair and unjust. It is clear that Mr. Clemons' trial was flawed in numerous regards and that serious questions persist regarding the reliability of his conviction and the proportionality of his sentence. I hope that you will follow this recommendation and commute the death sentence of Reggie Clemons.