Special Master in Missouri Finds Prosecutors Hid Evidence of Coerced Confession

On August 7, the Special Master assigned to review the case of Reginald Clemons (pictured) in Missouri announced that prosecutors withheld evidence indicating detectives beat Clemons into confessing to rape and murder that led to his death sentence. Clemons recanted the confession, but a tape of it was played at trial and he was convicted in 1993. No physical evidence linked him to the rape. Judge Michael Manners, who conducted special evidentiary hearings on Clemons’s possible innocence, said the state’s withholding of evidence was not “harmless error.” Nevertheless, he ruled that Clemons failed to establish his actual innocence because the verdict would have been the same without the confession. The report now goes to the Missouri Supreme Court for review.

(J. Currier, “Judge: Old Chain of Rocks Bridge killer failed to establish innocence,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 7, 2013). See Innocence and Arbitrariness.