Saturday, June 6, 2009
Note from Susan C: "This just in from the director of Missourians to Abolish the Death Penalty. Note that the stay of execution is temporary until the court receives a determination in another case. Those of us opposed to executions on moral grounds need to continue to share information with others. I know this is not a pleasant topic, but executions are done in our name and with our tax money. Did you know that capital cases actually cost the taxpayers more in the long run than other types of cases? And what is accomplished?"
From Jamala Rogers: Yesterday, Reggie received a “stay of execution” by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. While this was joyful news, it merely means that the execution was temporarily postponed. This will probably be until at least when a decision is made by the 8th Circuit on the motion before them on lethal injection by attorneys for Reggie and a few other death row inmates.
Let us savor this temporary victory but we CANNOT rest on our laurels. The work to save Reggie’s life is still in high gear and it must continue. Many events are being planned by the Justice for Reggie Campaign in conjunction with other groups; the documentary Borrowed Time is being shown; letters to Governor Nixon are still being sent; and petitions are still being collected.
Please visit Reggie’s website regularly to check out updates and information. And again, thanks for all of your hard work.
PS. Reggie, Vera Thomas and Jamala Rogers will be on 104.9’s Sunday Morning Live tomorrow (June 7) from 10:30 am-Noon.
Here are a few of the letters and comments I have received after posting my open letter to the Governor:
Governor Jeremiah Nixon
201 W. Capitol Avenue
Jefferson City, MO 65101-1556
Dear Gov. Nixon,
I am pleading for your mercy to grant a stay of execution for Reginald Clemons. I was employed at the St. Louis City Workhouse while he was awaiting trial. The first question he asked when he arrived was "The truth will come out when we go to trial. Right?"
After witnessing the brutality of young men and women housed in the institution, I have firsthand experience in assessing the demeanor of a killer. This question is one that would have never been asked by a guilty person. In fact, it is the question that still haunts me every time I hear about this case.
The more I learn about the case, the more disturbing it becomes. I will not go into detail of the all of the blatant inconsistencies and misconduct that you are well aware of but I cannot be silent any longer. If this execution goes forward, there will blood on the State's hands, not Reginald's.
Finally, I implore you to listen to your heart, pray, and trust God that you make the right decision, and let this young man live.
Respectfully, Rita Kirkland.
Governor Jeremiah Nixon
201 W. Capitol Avenue
Jefferson City, MO 65101-1556
FAX (573) 751-1495
Dear Governor Nixon,
I write today with a plea that you halt the execution of Reggie Clemons scheduled for June 17. You hold all the power now and I remind you that such power should be exercised with the utmost of caution. I submit that in Reggie’s case, every reason to have doubt exists. For this reason, you cannot, you mustn’t allow his execution. I have always understood that execution is reserved for premeditated crimes done by the most violent of offenders. I again submit Reggie’s case does not meet such criteria.
I admit that I am a staunch opponent of the death penalty, but never have I been so appalled as to make a plea to the governor of my state who can choose humanity in my name … or murder. I insist that Reggie’s execution would be murder. Please do not allow it.
You have undoubtedly received a great deal of correspondence asking you to halt this execution. No doubt you have reviewed the facts of the case. No doubt you believe in the justice system. No doubt you are concerned with those in your constituency who want justice for the Kerry sisters. I understand. I wish for justice for the Kerry sisters, too, but too much doubt exists here. Please, go speak with Reggie. Sit down with him. Learn everything you must before you allow this happen. I believe if you look him in the eyes, you will be unable to allow it. Because doubt exists, you cannot allow this to move forward.
Please do not sit back and allow the system to run its course here. You hold a power of enviable proportions. You can choose to sit back or stand up. I pray you will stand up for all of us who do not wish the state to murder on our behalf. I pray you will stand up for what’s right. To do otherwise is indefensible.
Please, Governor Nixon, do the right thing. Call off this execution. Call it off today. Give Reggie clemency today. Please. Do not execute in my name!
Most sincerely, Vicki Anton-Brown
Cc: Steve Long, chair of the Division of Parole and Probation (573) 751-8501
I also wanted to share this passionate response from Paula Skillicorn, widow of Dennis Skillicorn, the inmate executed by the state on May 20, 2009:
I appreciate your support for clemency for Reggie Clemons. Your column was powerful. You are well-versed in Reggie's case.
Unfortunately, you obviously did not do your homework on my husband's case. Even the state admitted Dennis killed no one - at least they admitted it until the tide turned against them and people came out is support of clemency.
Yes, my husband was a drug addict and criminal. Yes, he participated in criminal behavior that ultimately resulted in murder. Yes, he belonged in prison for that behavior and life without the possibility of parole would have been a fair and just sentence. In fact, Dennis tried to plead guilty for a LWOP sentence, which would have saved the county and state millions of dollars, but it was an election year, and his offer was turned down.
Your assertion, "There's no doubt that Skillicorn murdered. In 1994, he killed an innocent man, a good Samaritan no less, Richard Drummond, a man who stopped to help Skillicorn and his companions after their car stalled." is absolutely wrong.
The killer has consistently insisted that Dennis did not know Allen Nicklasson was going to kill Richard Drummond. Nicklasson made that assertion 20 minutes after the murder to his girlfriend, and consistently told authorities the same thing. However, prosecutors prevented jurors from hearing that confession. As a result, the appellate courts would not listen to it either.
Prosecutor Page Bellamy later admitted to telling jurors Dennis was involved in a murder that Bellamy knew had not happened, but used anyway. He waited to admit this in court until it was too late in the appellate process for courts to address that misconduct.
Dennis' family and supporters did not have to swear he had changed his life. A mountain of evidence spanning 14 years demonstrated the sincerity and consistency of who Dennis really was. A great deal of evidence came from staff and volunteers who worked with Dennis on a daily basis. None of them would have put their jobs or positions on the line unless they knew for a fact that Dennis was a changed person.
I applaud your efforts to make Nixon see how his choice of violence is wrong. Vera is my friend, and I care about Reggie. Like my husband, Vera’s son is not worthy of death. I don't want any more families to go through the horror that the state put my family through. Nixon needs to do the right thing -- stop killing people and stop destroying innocent families. Because I, too, am tired of people being killed in my name.
Sincerely, Paula Skillicorn
Click here for activities Skillicorn led at Potosi Correctional
Facility Click here for Skillicorn one-page "Fact Sheet:"
Sunday, May 31, 2009
"Reggie’s case is marked by the familiar litany of abuses found in so many capital cases: police brutality, prosecutorial misconduct, racial bias and ineffective assistance of trial counsel. It is also a textbook case of reasonable doubt, a fundamental element of our criminal justice system that requires especially intense consideration in death penalty cases. – Actor, human rights activist Danny Glover (For more click here)"
"Before April 1991, I hadn’t given much thought to the criminal justice system. I just assumed people got fair trials and if someone was convicted, they must be guilty. I’d hear hideous descriptions about what someone did and think they were a horrible person. I didn’t find out until Reggie’s case that what you see in the news or even in court is not always the whole story." -- Vera Thomas, Reginald Clemons’s mother (For more click here)
SJR gives an in-depth analysis of the story, complete with brief comments from Post editors Arnie Robbins and Adam Goodman. Retired Post-Dispatch reporter Roy Malone and Mark P. Barnett, an adjunct instructor with St. Louis University's communications department, examined the allegations regarding my dismissal from the newspaper in April and speculated on some of the motives behind what had become a contentious relationship between me and some editors.
Barnett describes, for example, how Mayor Francis Slay's chief of staff and campaign manager, Jeff Rainford, called editors to convince them to change the late edition of the Feb. 15 issue which contained my "unflattering" column about Slay. After much "hand-wringing by Post editors," Barnett wrote, "the column was not changed."
I had to chuckle as Barnett wrote about my use of late rapper Tupac Shakur's lyrics, "Shorty's gonna be a thug," to describe what I considered Slay's heavy-handed tactics.
The song, Barnett wrote "... contained a double-whammy that could be interpreted that Brown believed Slay was a thug and vertically challenged."
I stand by the "thug" part, though I honestly hadn't even considered the "shorty" reference relating to Slay's height.
"While Brown certainly discussed racial issues, his underlying theme was not 'blackness' but liberalism. You found in his columns a progressive, open-minded and balanced discussion of core issues that beset our society.
So to become more acceptable to the conservative segment of our community, the Post had to get rid of the most outspoken liberal writer on its staff ..."