Robin and Julie Kerry’s killer’s execution stayed

One of the men convicted of murdering nineteen-year-old Robin Kerry and her twenty-year-old sister Julie was due to face the gurney later this month, but they’ve stayed his execution indefinitely. He’s been on death row for close to twenty years. The case is a particularly heinous one: the two girls and their cousin, Tom Cummins, were walking on a bridge over the Mississippi when they were jumped by four men, none of whom had met any of the victims before. One of the men held Cummins down while the three others raped Robin and Julie, then pushed them off the bridge and forced Cummins to jump. He survived, only to be accused of murdering the Kerry sisters himself. Within a few days, though, the cops realized they were barking up the wrong tree and arrested the real killers. Julie’s body turned up about six weeks later; Robin’s was never found.

There are still some people online who think Cummins killed his cousins and framed the four suspects, but the evidence against the defendants is pretty strong. One of them had Cummins’s wallet either on his person or in his house (I forget which) when he was arrested. All four suspects confessed at one point or another, although three of them later retracted their statements. One defendant pleaded guilty and testified against the others. Cummins’s sister Jeanine wrote a wonderful book about the case called A Rip in Heaven. Many news accounts say Cummins confessed to the crime. According to his sister’s book, after the police told him their theory about him being the killer he said something like, “If that’s what you said, then that’s what I did.” That’s hardly a confession.

Anyway, I found this article about Reginald Clemons’s appeal. It was written before the stay of execution and it seems really biased to me. For example: This allegedly rehearsed and coerced confession was to rape, not to murder. Clemons was charged with rape in the case, but has never been tried for it. A body identified as that of Julie Kerry had no injuries suggesting rape. Um, what sort of physical evidence of rape did they expect to find on a dead body that had been in a river for weeks? Also: Daniel Winfrey, the only codefendant who is not black, cooperated with the prosecution, was sentenced to 30 years in prison and was released on parole in 2007. The article doesn’t mention that Winfrey was (A) the youngest of the four, just fifteen years old and therefore too young to face the death penalty and (B) the only one who didn’t participate in the gang rape. I’m surprised the article didn’t dredge up the old slurs against Tom Cummins.

I don’t really have an opinion as to whether Clemons should be executed or not. I’m against the death penalty in principle, but the guy is scum and I don’t care whether he lives or dies. But I definitely think he’s guilty. Whether he gets executed or whether his sentence is commuted to life in prison, I hope it happens quickly, because for the Kerry and Cummins families, whenever this case makes the news like this, it’s got to be like opening the wound again.

Additional articles:
The Kansas City Star
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
The Columbia Missourian
The St. Louis American
United Press International

11 thoughts on “Robin and Julie Kerry’s killer’s execution stayed

  1. Anthony June 6, 2009 / 2:41 pm

    Agreed. ‘A Rip in Heaven’ is a must-read.

  2. Aimee June 6, 2009 / 2:48 pm

    Those two girls lived less time on earth than this Clemens loser has lived on death row, being fed and cared for and provided with legal aid by the taxpayers. That’s the real tragedy of this.

  3. Aimee June 6, 2009 / 4:02 pm

    That and the fact that nobody was there to help any of the victims when they were being terrorized and killed, but their killers can use all kinds of maneuvering to stay alive.

  4. Joanne June 10, 2009 / 3:24 am

    Their public defender attorneys make money from the government by filing appeals, so since there is also a profit motive in this, they’ll say anything to get some kind of appeal going. And since the court lets attorneys file specious complaints, it will go on for a long time.

  5. eric January 10, 2010 / 4:49 am

    I went to school and was friends with Robin and Julie and they were very sweet exceptional people and I miss them very much. I remember when I was told that they were missing in the cafeteria at UMSL. My life was changed forever and a part of my youth and innocence was destroyed.

    • brian baiter mcbride March 29, 2011 / 8:05 pm

      eric i know what you mean! i was friends with robin and was one of the last people to see her alive , we lived a few streets away from the kerrys and robin was visting me at steak n shake, her last words to me is ill be back in a bite as she walked out to take her moms car home since her car was broke down! well she never came back in and her ex boyfriend rob was beating on my door at 6 am yelling robin is missing and of we went to the river !we were all thinking they would just pop up and it was hard to think they could be gone ! i go to the bridge every year on the april 5 bring flowers and 2 cigs marb reds short for them

  6. John December 1, 2011 / 9:30 pm

    Came across the story about these girls in Readers Digest Apr 2007 edition. For some reason I found this whole thing really moving and sad. RIP girls you are in a better place now šŸ˜¦

  7. deanne kleine December 15, 2011 / 8:23 am

    we need 2 strip the scum bags of their rights to anything . just like victims they should b shown no mercy! i bet crime would drop if our justice systen would quit being so liberal victims n families never have peace again so why should a narcisistic animal?

  8. Helen June 8, 2012 / 4:45 pm

    The entire case is incredibly sad and filled with legal inadequacy and misrepresentation. I disagree with the outcomes of this case. Evidence is not strong towards any of the four convicted. Thomas Cummins was lying as he failed a polygraph test, and was found with his hair completely dry and neatly combed, after saying he was forced to jump in the river after the girls. I do not know where you heard of the suspects having Cummins wallet on them or what not, but I am doing extensive research on this case for work and this case is a prime example of the flaws in our justice system. The case modeled police coersion/brutality (On April 9 1991 the judge residing over the case ordered Reggie to be examined at the hospital and he was diagnosed with msucle pain, muscle inflamation and a swollen right cheek), prosecutorial misconduct (the US District Court judge who reviewd Clemon’s case said judge Moss was “unprofessional”, “overly aggressive”, “replete with admonitions from the trail judge to the prosecutor for improper questions, objections, and comments.” Not to mention Moss’ long history of this kind of behavior), a ‘Stacked jury’ (The US District court judge stated, “vacation of the death penalty is required when even one juror is improperly excluded, here there were six…” 2002), lack of proper legal representation, and questions of race.

    I am deeply saddened by what happened to these girls, and even more enraged that justice is not properly being served, as Thomas Cummins was freed as well as received $150,000 for a lawsuit against the st. louis police, and other lives are being taken away.

    Read this to learn more:

  9. Troy Shelton January 5, 2013 / 6:12 am

    Wow, I just read everything I could find about these girls. I just don’t understand how somebody can hurt someone so young and bright. I just can’t seem to read enough. But no matter how much I read it will not bring these two adorable young girls home to their families. I am one for the death penalty but it does not appear to change people’s mind to not murder. This is such a violent country.

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