Missouri Supreme Court rejects death row prisoner's plea

Friday, January 7, 2011

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- The Missouri Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a death-row inmate Richard Clay's appeal for a stay of execution.

In a letter to prisoner Richard Clay's counsel, Supreme Court Clerk Thomas Simon broke the news that the court's order be "Appellant's motion of stay of execution overruled." Attorney Jennifer Herndon filed the motion Jan. 3.

The court gave the petition an expedited review.

Clay, 45, is scheduled to die Jan. 12 for the slaying of Randy Martindale. Prosecutors say Clay killed the Missouri Bootheel car dealer at the request of Stacy Martindale, who was having an affair with a friend of Clay's.

Clay's only hope now lies with Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon.

Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty brought a raft of speakers to the Capitol on Tuesday to lobby on Clay's behalf. They focused on the absence of direct evidence in Clay's conviction, withheld evidence and lack of unified judicial opinion on the case. The U.S. Court in the Western District of Missouri in 2001 granted Clay a new trial, citing concerns with prosecution. This decision was later overturned by the Missouri 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.

"We'll take extremely seriously the responsibilities that rest on my shoulders," Nixon said in response to a Missouri News Horizon question following the Governor's Prayer Breakfast on Wednesday.

"I will as I always do, take whatever time is necessary to understand any and all relevant issues so as to make whatever difficult choice I have to make in a timely fashion. I also try in my head, to never forget, that because of the continuation of this litigation, often times the victims and the victims' families are left behind, sometimes as you get to the end of this after eight or 10 or 12 years of litigation, I think there's a huge amount of focus on the one who's been convicted, the one that is up."

As several people prepared to circulate the Capitol to lobby on Clay's behalf, a man declared "factually innocent" and released from prison after serving 16 years on a Benton, Mo., murder charge donated $10,000 to Clay's defense fund.

Joshua Kezer cited a pattern of misconduct associated with murder cases where Kenny Hulshof was involved with the prosecution, including his own and Clay's, when he made the donation. Before serving several terms as a U.S. congressman for Missouri's 9th District, Hulshof worked as a special prosecutor in the Missouri attorney general's office.

In materials provided to the press, the Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty outlined the details of Hulshof's prosecutorial performance in seven other cases.

Hulshof "did the same kind of stuff he did in Josh's trial that he did in Rick's," Herndon said Tuesday. "Whenever you see patterns, it lends credibility to what you're saying."

Kenny Hulshof did not return a call for comment.

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