Richard Clay's defense team pushes for new trial

By Holly Brantley - bio | email

(KFVS) - Richard Clay's defense team is taking active steps to get Clay a new trial. Lawyers out of Kansas City are now taking a more active role in the case. They are preparing new evidence to present to the Missouri Supreme Court.

Clay is now serving life in prison for the murder of Randy Martindale in New Madrid in 1994. His death sentence was commuted by Governor Nixon on January 10. Clay was scheduled to die by lethal injection on January 12.

Clay has always maintained his innocence.

Attorney, Cyndy Short is working along with Jennifer Herndon on the case.

"We've made a lot of progress in just the last six weeks," said Short.

Short says in 1995 the jury came back with what she calls an unreliable verdict. She says Clay is out of appeals, so they would have to prepare new evidence to convince the Supreme Court in Missouri that Clay deserves another trial.

"It will take filing a motion with the court and asking them to review the case based on new evidence of innocence," said Short in a telephone interview. "Evidence is going to be based upon interviews with a whole bunch of people in the Sikeston area that have familiarity with the case itself and knew all the parties involved."

"Those people are now providing information that suggests there were more people involved or more people with intimate knowledge of what happened to Randy Martindale," said Short.

Richard Clay was the accused shooter in a murder for hire plot that involved Martindale's wife Stacy and her lover, Chuck Sanders. Stacy served 15 years in prison, and Sanders got probation. Since his conviction in 1995, lawyers for Clay have insisted there were too many unanswered questions in the case, and no physical evidence to pin the murder on Clay.

"We've learned so much through the innocence project with DNA work and statistically there has to be many many more people serving time for crimes they did not commit," said Short of Clay's case and others like it.

Short says funding is a big obstacle.

"There is no pathway for funding," said Short. "Many of the lawyers involved have been volunteering their time and we are looking for a funding source to help with the investigations. These would be things like crime scene experts and we hope to find people that would donate their time."

Short says lawyers have given themselves a goal of 90 to 100 days to get a petition ready for the courts.  From there it's up to a judge.

"Every month that passes the evidence can become more stale," said Short. "We're hopeful and we feel so grateful for this opportunity and the time we now have to seek a just result for both families involved. We are hopeful we can bring the case back to the court so that there can be a reliable verdict."

Law enforcement still working in New Madrid County who remember Clay's arrest and investigation still maintain they believe he is guilty.

Clay's family says they are working to the get case profiled on national television. Clay was moved off death row in Bonne Terre to Potosi a short time after his sentence was commuted.

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