Man serving life for murder is fighting for his freedom - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Man serving life for murder is fighting for his freedom

POTOSI, MO (KFVS) -

Six months after Governor Nixon commuted his death sentence, Richard Clay of Sikeston now no longer fighting for his life, he is fighting for his freedom.

Clay is serving life in prison for the 1994 murder of Randy Martindale.

Richard Clay and his lawyers say they have new evidence and also witnesses that could turn the tables on this case.

"There was never real evidence against me," said Clay, who has always maintained his innocence.

Clay was arrested in May of 1994 after a manhunt and high speed chase. He says at the time he was guilty of dealing drugs, but that was all. He says that is why he thought cops were after him, and why he ran that night. He says he was shocked to learn he was actually being charged with the murder of Randy Martindale, a man he says he's never met.

Prosecutors called the killing part of a murder for hire scheme that included Randy Martindale's wife, Stacy, her lover Chuck Sanders, and Richard Clay. Clay says the case came down to a he said she said, and Clay took the fall.

"Everything got pinned against me," said Clay. "It was easy to point the finger at me. They found gun powder on Stacy's hands and the other facts didn't point to me either."

The undisputed facts show Randy Martindale was shot four times in his bedroom.

Clay says he and his friend Chuck Sanders went to the house so that Stacy could bring them money for drugs, but he says he never went inside. That's when the stories of the three involved take different turns. Sanders says he was never in the car or along for the ride with the chase and the manhunt. Clay says Sanders was in the car, and now he has witnesses that may come forward to back him up.

"We know a lot more now," said Clay.

Since the sentence was commuted, Clay's lawyer Jennifer Herndon says they've been interviewing people and gathering evidence. She says most of those individuals are still in Sikeston and remember the events of May of 1994.

She and Clay both say they hope some of those people will be willing to testify should Clay get another trial.

"People have always been out there that could help me," said Clay. "Back then many of them just didn't want to get involved."

One of the biggest obstacles in this case is money to pay investigators. Clay says his lawyers are virtually working for free.

They hope to file a petition and have new evidence ready by the end of the year. The time table was originally 100 days after his sentence was commuted from death to life, but Herndon says they need more time. With no more appeals, lawyers say they have to file a motion for a new investigation, and once that happens it's still a waiting game to see if a judge will take the case.

"I believe there's too much there to ignore," said Clay.

Clay says he can't elaborate on the new evidence at this time. Herndon says he's taken a lot of the investigation upon himself.

"One of the keys to this case Richard was able to track down," said Herndon. Herndon would also not elaborate on specifics. But she did say she believes a third party may be involved. "Someone other than Stacy, Chuck and Richard," said Herndon.

Clay is now serving his life sentence at Potosi Correctional Center. He's allowed more freedom behind bars, and also participates in the puppies for parole program. He brought his dog, "Honey" to our interview. She's training her and she will eventually be adopted out to a family.

He says while he's also working an industrial job at Potosi, and making the most of his prison ministry, he's looking forward to a life with his family in Southeast Missouri again.

"That would be a great day," said Clay.

Law enforcement in New Madrid County who were present at the time of Clay's arrest tell Heartland News they still feel Clay is guilty. In January, Martindale's family released a statement saying they agreed with the governor's decision, and they consider the case closed.

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