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Editorial: The Kezer conviction

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Joshua Kezer is serving a 60-year sentence for murder based on the recanted and unrecanted testimony of three inmate snitches, one of whom admitted in a letter it was a scam concocted to bargain down their own jail time with prosecutors.

Meanwhile, other men have reportedly bragged about their roles in the 1992 murder of Mischelle Lawless, which was chalked up to bravado.

Kezer's case has been under the microscope for several months. It was re-opened by Scott County Sheriff Rick Walter more than two years ago. It caught the attention of St. Louis lawyers, the Innocence Project, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and more recently reporter Bridget DiCosmo of the Southeast Missourian. DiCosmo's reporting raised many questions and scenarios about Lawless' death.

Kezer's conviction is anything but certain. It seems troubling that snitches' wobbly testimony and other witnesses' changing stories carried more weight than Kezer's relatives who say they saw Kezer in Kankakee, Ill., two hours before Lawless was killed in Benton, Mo. Not only does DNA evidence nor any other physical evidence put Kezer at the crime scene, there are other suspects who appear at least as likely of having the opportunity of committing the crime.

Walter should be commended for reopening the case. It would also be prudent for the Missouri State Highway Patrol to release evidence (a bullet from a closed death row case) that could shed light on the killer.

If Kezer is innocent, then he has lived out America's worst nightmare. This case serves as a reminder to us all that we are innocent until proven guilty and that finding the truth is much more important than getting a conviction. On June 9, a judge will hear evidence and decide if a new trial or exoneration is warranted. Based on the evidence and testimony provided by court documents, law enforcement and witnesses, a new trial would seem to be justified.

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Thank you for writing this. It would seem that the State Highway Patrol should be forced to allow testing on the bullet from the death row case. Bullets from the same type of gun were used in two SE Missouri murders. Reports have surfaced even on the SE Missourian blog that the same individuals may be involved in both. What possible harm could come from determining whether the bullets came from the same gun? Why would the state highway patrol not want to know the truth?

-- Posted by Dayspring on Wed, Apr 23, 2008, at 8:15 AM

I hope Bridget DiCosmo is still on the case.

-- Posted by Proud_Democrat on Wed, Apr 23, 2008, at 1:28 PM

You have raised an interesting question about the State Patrol. Do you think they are helping cover up the previous legal inconsistencies? At what point are they obstructing justice?

-- Posted by psalm103 on Wed, Apr 23, 2008, at 9:00 PM

It is great to see the Missourian finally aboard. They have been presented with the trial transcript, the investigator's report, and other pertinent details more than once, beginning in the 1990's. Like so many others, they either lacked the concern or feared repercussion. And Josh Kezer has spent the most formative years of a man's adult life--fifteen of them--in a barred cell.

-- Posted by HizDNA on Wed, Apr 23, 2008, at 11:35 PM

What? Our illustrious gubernatorial candidate Mr. Hulshof prosecuted this travesty? What? He might have withheld evidence from the defense which would have shot holes in his case? What? He has not bothered to involve himself again in the interest of justice? What? He has been a free man the last fifteen years? I wonder if there were true justice in this case that Mr. Hulshof might be spending a little of Joshua Kezer's time in a Jeff City cell rather than the governor's mansion.

-- Posted by E4thirsteen on Wed, Apr 23, 2008, at 11:49 PM

What? The illustrious gubernatorial candidate Mr. Kenny Hulshof prosecuted this travesty? What? He might have withheld key evidence from the defense which would have shot holes in his case? What? He has not bothered to look into this case again in the interest of justice? I wonder if there were true justice, that Mr. Hulshof's future Jeff City address would not be the Governor's Mansion, but rather Joshua Kezer's cell.

-- Posted by E4thirsteen on Wed, Apr 23, 2008, at 11:53 PM

Hmmm. Governor's mansion or jail cell for obstruction of justice. Perhaps he could stay in Mr. Kezer's old cell.

-- Posted by E4thirsteen on Wed, Apr 23, 2008, at 11:54 PM

This case certainly warrents HUGE

Look-see. That boy is as inocent as a church mouser

-- Posted by Blondie1 on Fri, Apr 25, 2008, at 12:38 AM

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