Mo. Governor Commutes Death Sentence

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has commuted the death sentence of Richard Clay. Clay is another defendant prosecuted by former Congressman Ken Hulshof.

Nixon was Missouri's Attorney General before becoming Governor. He's a staunch advocate of the death penalty. In the 2008 Governor's race, his opponent was...Ken Hulshof. Yet, Nixon said Hulshof was not a factor in the commutation decision.

Hulshof should have been a factor. In 2009, Josh Kezer was released from prison after serving 17 years, half of his life, in prison. He's another case of wrongful conviction prosecuted by Hulshof. In 2008, the Missourian described six more cases. [More...]

The most prominent may be the case of Dale Helmig, who was finally declared innocent of killing his mother by a Missouri judge in November, after 17 years in prison. I've been familiar with Dale's case since 2000, when I was part of the first film showcasing his probable innocence, TNT's Was Justice Denied? For the film, former prosecutor Charlie Stone and I interviewed Hulshof, the judge who was replaced ten days before trial after reportedly opining he might toss the case out, Hulshof's co-prosecutor, Dale's defense lawyer, several trial witnesses, Dale's relatives (including his father Ted whom many think should have been the main suspect), and of course, Dale in prison.

Dale did not get a fair trial. Last month he was finally freed from prison, to await the state's appeal of the judge's decison or a possible retrial.

Gov. Nixon yesterday maintained his faith in the death penalty. As to why he commuted Clay's sentence, he said only it was due to a number of factors:

Among those were the "involvement of a number of folks'' and a court system that "had some issues," with the case, he said. He offered little elaboration. He said most of the concerns about the case had been reported by the media.

Since most of the media reports on Clay's case and the others include accounts of the alleged improprieties of Ken Hulshof, I'm not buying that Hulshof wasn't a factor.

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    Jail time? (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by lentinel on Fri Jan 14, 2011 at 06:04:50 AM EST
    What are the penalties for people like Hulshof if any?

    I recently saw the film, "Conviction", which details the wrongful conviction of a man in Massachusetts for murder. It was subsequently proven that the prosecution withheld exculpatory evidence and proceeded with the case with malice and ambition as the motivating factors. There was no penalty for those involved due, from what I read, to a statute of limitations.

    This is a nightmare.

    payback for Hulshof (none / 0) (#2)
    by diogenes on Fri Jan 14, 2011 at 09:47:49 PM EST
    If Nixon really thought that Hulshof had caused a miscarriage of justice, wouldn't he have pardoned Clay rather than simply commuting his death sentence?