ST. LOUIS (KMOX/AP) – A man whose conviction was overturned in the rape and murder of two sisters on the Chain of Rocks Bridge has now entered a guilty plea.
Reginald Clemons, who at one time was sentenced to death for the crime – and got his conviction overturned – is now pleading guilty in exchange for life in prison.
Former St. Louis Prosecutor Jennifer Joyce says the evidence against Clemons only got stronger through advances in DNA techniques.
“They discovered DNA that was very damning to Mr. Clemons, and that type of testing was not available back when he was originally tried,” Joyce says.
Clemons now admits that he and three others participated in the April 1991 rapes of 20-year-old Julie and 19-year-old Robin Kerry on the bridge, later forcing the sisters and their cousin, Thomas Cummins, to jump into the Mississippi River. Cummins survived.
The Missouri Supreme Court in 2015 dismissed Clemons’ conviction after finding that prosecutors suppressed evidence that police had beaten a confession out of him.
Joyce says it was his push for a new trial that uncovered new DNA evidence against Clemons.
“Pursuing his false claims of innocence, as sad as that was in how he misled so many people, he actually made his case, his situation much worse,” she says. “And I think that’s why he’s finally pleading guilty.”
Clemons spent 22 years on death row. His plea agreement calls for him to serve five consecutive life sentences.
One accomplice, Marlin Gray, was executed in 2005. Antonio Richardson is serving life without parole, and Daniel Winfrey was sentenced to 30 years, got out on parole, and was sent back to prison for parole violations.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)