Attorneys plan Supreme Court petition to stop Rick Clay's execution

Tuesday, January 4, 2011 | 5:55 p.m. CST; updated 6:53 p.m. CST, Tuesday, January 4, 2011

JEFFERSON CITY — Attorneys for Rick Clay, convicted of murder in 1994,  said Tuesday they plan to file a petition with the Missouri Supreme Court to halt his Jan. 12 execution.

Clay's family and other supporters held a news conference Tuesday in Jefferson City urging the public to protest the execution. It would be the second in the state since 2006.

“The Missouri Supreme Court has never heard some of what we have to say,” said Jennifer Herndon, Clay’s attorney, who said she intends to file the petition Thursday.

“We still have hope that the Missouri Supreme Court will intervene,” Herndon said.

She said Clay's conviction was based on circumstantial evidence. He faces the death penalty in the murder of Randy Martindale, a car dealer in the Missouri boot heel whose wife was also convicted in the killing.

The defense has been struggling to obtain new evidence in the case without sufficient funds.

During the press conference, Clay's attorney received an unexpected windfall from Josh Kezer, who served 16 years in prison before being exonerated in February.

Midway through the press conference, Kezer walked to the front of the room and handed Herndon a check for $10,000.

“This is a life-or-death issue,” Kezer said. “I didn’t feel the need to remain quiet.”

Herndon said the money will be used to seek new evidence to present to the Supreme Court.

Clay's supporters are also appealing to Gov. Jay Nixon for a grant of clemency. They have developed a website to solicit funds and support from the public.

In an e-mailed response from the governor's office, Nixon's press secretary, Scott Holste, stated: “Once the application is received, the governor will make a determination after a full and fair review.”

Along with Herndon, Raburn Evans, a friend of Martindale, and the prisoner's son, Kiefer, also spoke on behalf of Clay on Tuesday.

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