Family of former death row inmate wants new trial - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Family of former death row inmate wants new trial

Richard Clay Richard Clay
Randy Martindale Randy Martindale
Richard Clay Richard Clay
Clay's friend Raburn Evans Clay's friend Raburn Evans
Clay's mother Joyce Cox Clay's mother Joyce Cox

We are learning more about the night Randy Martindale was shot and killed in New Madrid in 1994. Its information coming to light as Richard Clay's lawyers work to get him a new trial.

Clay is serving a life sentence. He is convicted of killing Martindale.

Originally sentenced to death, Governor Nixon commuted Clay's sentence 36 hours before he was scheduled to die back in January.

Holly Brantley sat down with Clay's parents and also Randy Martindale's best friend to discuss new details, and also evidence they say has been there all along.

To Richard Clay's mother Joyce Cox, and Raburn Evans, Randy Martindale's best friend, the real story of how Martindale died has never come to light.

Instead, they feel the public and a jury only heard a version easy for prosecutors to put together.

"I said they're lynching this boy," Evans said.

Now Cox and Evans come together to discuss details and the focus of an investigation Clay's defense team is working on, something that picked up momentum after Clay's sentenced was commuted from death to life in prison early this year.

From the beginning, Evans says he knew Richard Clay didn't kill his best friend. 

"Rick don't belong in there," adds Evans. "Should've heard the truth."

We know the events of the evening included a murder, a high speed chase, a man hunt, and Clay's arrest. From there, few parties involved tell the same story.

Now, Evans discusses the details he feels need to come out in court. First, while Clay has said he went to the Martindale home the night of the murder, but never went inside, prosecutors say Clay hid in the closet for four hours before the shooting. But investigators and Evans feel the crime scene reports tell a different story

"Those magic bullets, how can Rick walk out of a closet over there and then the bullets end up on the back side of Randy?" asked Evans.

What's more, he says when that high speed chase occurred Clay wasn't alone in the car some witnesses say someone was with him. They say that person was Chuck Sanders.

"I always suspected that when chuck got out of the car he had a cell phone I figured he had a phone on him he called somebody and he picked him up," Evans said. 

Evans and Clay's defense team say they believe that person was the man they say provided the gun for the killing, a gun, that's never been found.

Meanwhile, Evans says it's time to talk about DNA evidence, or lack thereof. 

"They didn't have DNA finger prints hair fiber nothing," said Evans. 

Chuck Sanders says he was never in the Camero or in New Madrid that night. 

Meanwhile in 1994, numerous witnesses reported seeing sanders in bars and other places in Sikeston throughout the evening Martindale was murdered. To this day their stories have not changed.

As for law enforcement still on the job in New Madrid County, and prosecutors, they maintain the findings of their investigation. The time line of events does not place Chuck Sanders in that Camero, and they still believe Richard Clay is the man who pulled the trigger.

"We'll just see what God's gonna do," says Clay's mother Joyce Cox. 

Cox says she turns to prayer. Lately she's asked god to provide money for an investigation.

"Regardless of how poor we are if god wants him to come home. He's gonna open that door and he's going to allow things to happen," Cox said

You'll remember, according prosecutors, it was all part of a murder for hire plot also involving Martindale's wife Stacy and Chuck Sanders.

Stacy Martindale served 15 years. Sanders got five years probation.

Right now, many investigators are working on Clay's case for free. Several fundraisers are in the works to raise money for further work on the case.

Meanwhile, lawyers say they are still on track to get a hearing to get the case back into the courts by the end of the year.

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