Monday, January 10, 2011

The Impending Wrongful Execution of Richard Clay

I have repeatedly stood mute on those executions where I was satisfied there was no reasonable possibility of actual innocence. Regarding the impending execution of Richard Clay on Wednesday, 12 January, I cannot stand mute. I believe there is a substantial likelihood that Richard Clay is factually innocent of the crime for which he is scheduled to die.

There is a fair amount of information available regarding Clay's case. There are three appellate decisions that describe the state's case in a light most favorable to the state. They are State v. Martindale (1997), State v. Clay (1998), and Clay v. Bowersox (2004).

Richard Clay has a web site of his own and presents his case as best he can. There are quite a number of news articles out there. Most are superficial and repetitive. The Webster University Journal, on the other hand, printed a particularly useful article back in 2001. Justice Denied magazine published an extended article in its Fall 2007 issue.

The stories told by the various parties are complicated, conflated, and conflicting. My goal for this post is to tell the story in a more organized, less biased fashion than previously told before. If you bear with me, I will offer my theory of the crime before I click "Publish Post."

Randy Martindale (Victim)

In May of 1994, Randy Martindale owned and operated a car dealership in New Madrid, a small town on the Mississippi River in the southeast corner of Missouri. The town is so south and so east in Missouri that a slip of the New Madrid Fault Line could move the city into southern Illinois or eastern Tennessee.

Martindale Chevrolet
Though Randy Martindale was murdered in May of 1994, his name lives on in the car dealership. If you search for "Martindale New Madrid" in Google, you will be presented with page after page of links for Martindale Chevrolet, or Oldsmobile, or Pontiac, or some combination thereof.

Randy Martindale married Stacy Martindale in 1988. They had two sons. Assuming the children were born after the marriage, the boys were younger than six. Given that Stacy began an affair with Charles Sanders in 1990, and given that she told Sanders one of the boys was his, one of the boys was apparently younger than four.

In 1993, Randy and Stacy met with Bobby Martin, an insurance agent. Martin rewrote a $100,000 life insurance policy for Randy. Stacy was named the primary beneficiary of the policy.

Sometime around the beginning of 1994, six blank checks disappeared from Martindale Chevrolet's dealership. None of them was ever cashed. A carbon of one of them did show up later, as will be discussed later herein.

In February of 1994, Randy and Stacy apparently had an argument alongside Highway 55. Stacy told police that Randy had physically beaten her. Randy was arrested, though never charged.

You will not be surprised to learn, based only on what you know so far, that Randy and Stacy were having trouble in their marriage. In May of 1994, the same month in which Randy was murdered, the two separated. Randy moved in with his parents, just a block away. Stacy and the children remained in the couple's marital house.

On the evening of 19 May 1994, a Thursday, Randy Martindale took his two young sons to a baseball game. He arrived at their marital home late that evening, perhaps after 10:30 PM, assuming you believe Stacy. Her red Camaro was parked in the driveway. He pulled in behind her car, blocking easy egress of that Camaro from the residence. 

Depending on whichever story you are listening to, there may or may not have been one or two people sitting in the red Camaro. He may or may not have asked those one or two people what they were doing. They may or may not have told him they were waiting for Stacy.

Randy Martindale entered his marital home with his two sons, one of them perhaps being the biological offspring of one of the possibly two men who may or may not have been in the red Camaro outside. Stacy claims she asked Randy if he would like to spend the night. That seems to be true, since Randy was sitting on a couch in the master bedroom, either putting on his shoes or taking them off, when someone shot him three times in the neck from across the room then once in the head from close range.

Stacy Martindale (Murderer)

In her statements to the police, Stacy asserted she arrived home at approximately 10:30 PM. Randy and the young boys returned home around 10:40 or 10:45 PM. She asked Randy to spend the night (so she claims) or lured him to his death with an offer of sex (so I speculate.) Randy agreed.

While Randy went to the master bedroom, Stacy tucked the boys into their beds. She then went to the master bedroom. She left the bedroom sometime later to get a glass of water from the kitchen. She returned to the bedroom, retrieved a blanket from the hall closet for Randy before she laid down on the bed. Randy decided to spend the night at his parents' house (which after all was but a block away) and got up to dress.

As Stacy was leaning over to get a sip of water, apparently from a glass of water she had retrieved from the kitchen moments before, she heard three or four loud bangs. She immediately ran to the boys' bedroom, apparently without running into the shooter or even seeing him.

Stacy did somehow see her red Camaro being driven away. She ran to her neighbors' house, awakening them with her screams of "they shot him." Note the plural "they." Note also that she awakened the neighbors with her screams, indicating that the neighbors had not been awakened by either the gunshots or a red Camaro fleeing the scene.

The neighbors apparently called 911, apparently around 11:30 PM. When the police arrived, Stacy explained that she never saw the shooter because she was, uh, uh, leaning over to take a sip of water. She added: "This makes me so mad."

A State expert would testify at her trial that the shooter was most likely sitting on the foot of the bed when he or she fired the shots that killed Randy Martindale. Regardless how focused one may be while sipping water, it seems unlikely anyone would fail to notice a strange, armed gunman sitting on the foot of the bed, regardless of how refreshing the water may have been.

The police found no sign of forced entry. Fingerprint dusting revealed no prints belonging to Clay. Vacuum sweepings uncovered no matching hairs or traceable fibers. They found no DNA, no blood, no nothing to place Richard Clay in the Martindale house, that night or any night.

The police did find a right hand, leather work glove on a vanity in the master bedroom. They also discovered the matching left hand glove underneath some blankets in the hall closet. They did not test the gloves for fingerprints or for gunshot residue. Go figure.

They did, however, test Stacy's hands for gunshot residue. The results were suggestive but not conclusive. According to reporter Burleson, the testing revealed lead and copper but not antimony. (I'm a little confused by the reporting since such testing typically checks for lead, barium, and antimony; not lead, copper, and antimony.)

Significantly, the police failed to find the murder weapon. Assuming the gun was not well hidden at or around the Martindale residence, the murder weapon was apparently inside Stacy's red Camaro as it departed the scene.

Richard Clay (Loser)

Not only was the gun probably in the red Camaro as it departed the Martindale house that night, Richard Clay was absolutely, positively in the car. If you want to learn why I think Richard Clay may be factually innocent of the crime even though I believe both he and the murder weapon left together in the red Camaro, you will have to continue reading.

If you prefer to believe that an innocent person is never convicted, much less brought within two days of execution, you can read this paragraph and be done with it. The State of Missouri argued (at Clay's trial)  that Stacy convinced Clay just that night (during a quick trip to Hardee's) to help her kill Randy Martindale. In fact, according to the State of Missouri, Stacy convinced Clay to hide in her bedroom closet, wait for an opportune time, spring forth, shoot Randy dead, then make his escape in her red Camaro which (as you recall) was certain to be blocked by Randy's car.

Downtown Sikeston, MO
For those of you still with me, let's consider Richard Clay's story. He claims he was waiting in the red Camaro because he was a drug pusher, provided some of those drugs (methamphetamines) to Stacy, and had traveled with her (and her lover Charles Sanders) to her house so she could get the money to pay him for the drugs which he had just acquired from his dealer on credit. From there, the three of them were going to return to the happening scenes in nearby Sikeston, "The City Where all Things are Possible."

According to Richard Clay, who has seemingly told a consistent if not a flattering story, he ran into Stacy earlier in the evening when he was at the Sikeston Radio Shack. Charles Sanders, Clay's friend and Stacy's lover, worked there. Stacy and Sanders had an on again, off again relationship. The relationship apparently was on when Sanders would consider killing Randy for her, and off when he refused to go through with it. That night, Stacy was upset because Sanders refused to kill Randy.

The three of them and another Radio Shack employee decided to dine at Hardee's. Stacy and Clay traveled to Hardee's in her car. Charles Sanders and the other employee joined them after closing up for the evening. It was during those ten or fifteen minutes that the Missouri jurors concluded Clay agreed to kill Randy Martindale simply because Stacy asked him to.

After dining, the group split up. Clay didn't own a car, so he bummed rides around town, stopping at various friends' houses and scoring a supply of meth from his dealer on credit; very short term credit. He ran into lovebirds Stacy and Sanders later that evening, told them he had recently scored some meth, and told them he had to sell it quickly, since he still owed the dealer. Stacy expressed interest in buying, but she didn't have the money on her. They agreed to go to Stacy's house in Stacy's red Camaro so that Stacy could get the money, and Clay could pay his dealer, and they could all party.

When they arrived at the Martindale residence, Clay and Sanders waited in the car as Stacy went inside to dig up the cash. Randy arrived home with his two sons and pulled in behind them. After taking the children into the house, Randy came back out and asked them what (the hell) they were doing. They told him they were waiting for Stacy, that the three of them were going to a party. Randy told them to leave, that Stacy wasn't going.

Soon thereafter, Stacy came out and motioned Sanders to the door. The two had a brief conversation that Clay could not hear. Stacy went back inside and Sanders returned to the car. Sanders informed Clay that they were going to take Stacy's red Camaro, retrieve Sander's car, return Stacy's car, and then go the party. Stacy would not be going.

Because Randy's car was blocking the driveway behind them, Sanders had to maneuver the car back and forth some to work his way free. In the process of doing so, unbeknown to both of them, Sanders managed to snag a toy tractor beneath the red Camaro.

It didn't take long for other drivers to notice the sparks flying from the bottom of the red Camaro as it drove, but did not speed, along Dawson Road at the northern end of New Madrid. The lack of speeding seems uncharacteristic of a car speeding from a crime scene. In any case, patrol Officer McFerren decided to pull them over because the sparks suggested to him that the driver might be drunk.

McFerren turned on his flashing lights. Clay freaked. Given that he was in possession of drugs, paraphenalia, and a rap sheet, the traffic stop could lead to hard time. He asked Sanders to pull over and let him out. He planned to make a run for it, literally.

Sanders pulled onto a gravel road and stopped. Clay jumped from the car and ran through cotton plants into marshy woods near a tributary of the Mississippi River. When daylight arrived, he could see the police sweeping the area for him, a helicopter overhead. When he was spotted, he tossed the meth and paraphernalia from his black bag into the water. He tossed the black bag on the ground. He hid in a small body of water, but was noticed when he came up for air. After his arrest, he was shocked to be charged with murder rather than drug crimes.

Richard Clay and Charles Sanders (Camaro Occupants)

Richard Clay realizes that it is somehow important to him, a matter of life or death actually, that people believe there were two people in the red Camaro that night, as it dragged a toy tractor along the road. I don't believe, however, that Richard Clay or his defense actually understands why. I have yet to see a clear explanation from the defense as to why it's absolutely crucial. I see only arguments that Charles Sanders can and should confirm Clay's story about being at the Martindale residence to transact a drug purchase rather than a murder.

That Clay doesn't fully understand the significance is evidenced by his claims to the appellate courts that Charles Sanders killed Randy Martindale, assuming Stacy didn't kill him herself. Clay argues that it could have been Stacy, and it could have been Randy, but it certainly wasn't him. To that argument, the Missouri Supreme Court replied: "At trial, the appellant testified that he was with Sanders all night. Showing that Sanders was involved in the murder would have contradicted appellant's own testimony."

The reason it is important for Richard Clay to establish that Charles Sanders was in the car that night is because of the missing murder weapon. If Richard Clay is in fact innocent of the crime, if he was unaware that it was even going to take place, and if the gun departed the residence when the red Camaro departed, then Charles Sanders is the person who transported the gun from the murder scene. It's possible that when Stacy summoned Sanders to the door that evening, she had already killed her husband, and she passed the murder weapon to Sanders at that point.

That hypothesis requires further development, and I shall develop it further, but only later in this already long post. Though I am writing into the wee hours of the morning, a possibly innocent person is schedule to die in two days, and I think I have some insight to offer.

For now, in this subsection, I'll focus on the number of people in the car.

From the opinion of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, we learn the following:
New Madrid police officer Claude McFerren saw Stacy's red Camaro proceeding slowly away from the Martindale home, emitting sparks because a child's tractor was lodged beneath the car. McFerren pursued, suspecting an intoxicated driver, and activated his emergency lights when the Camaro accelerated. McFerren caught up with the car stopped on a gravel road with the engine running and both doors open. When Randy's homicide was reported, the police began a twelve-hour manhunt for the person whose footprints were traced from the passenger door into adjacent fields, past commercial premises, and ultimately into a swamp. ...The search continued through the night. The next day, an officer saw Clay run into the woods carrying a black shaving kit. As officers approached, Clay emptied the kit and eluded them. Some time later, an officer saw Clay's face surface for air from chest-high swamp water. The police arrested Clay and found his empty black kit. Reebok shoes matched the footprints leading from the Camaro. The murder weapon was never found.
This narrative poses some difficulties for the State when it argues that Richard Clay was alone in that red Camaro.
  • Officer McFerren did not notice whether there was one or two people in the car. McFerren simply never got close enough to see before he found the abandoned car.
  • Both car doors were open.
  • Clay's shoe prints were leading from the passenger side door.
The State argued, apparently convincingly, that Clay was alone, pulled onto the gravel road, stopped the car, opened the driver's side door, climbed across the console, opened the passenger's side door, and exited the car. The State also argued that there were no shoe prints whatsoever on the driver's side. From the 8th Circuit opinion, we find the following.
Trooper Kenley, who arrived on the scene shortly thereafter, testified that he suspected two people had been in the car because both doors were open. Therefore, he carefully examined the ground near the driver's side door but saw "no indication of any foot tracks at all" in the rather loosely packed sand and gravel. Kenley added, "I asked Officer McFerren if he had seen any [tracks], and he said no." Consistent with this testimony, Kenley's contemporaneous police report stated, "the only set of footprints leading away from the car started from the passenger side and went east."
Something is seriously wrong with the State's claim that there were no footprints on the driver's side of the door. Officer McFerren had clearly walked there when he approached the car, checked inside, reached inside, turned off the engine, and turned off the windshield wipers. After the trial, McFerren was shown an affidavit which he declared to be accurate and initially agreed to sign. The affidavit read:
That in May 19 1994 I was employed as a deputy for the New Madrid County Sheriff's Department. That I was on duty May 19, 1994 when I began to follow the red Camaro later identified as Stacy Martindale's car. After the Camaro stopped I was the first person to approach the car to determine whether it was empty. That while I was at the scene of the red Camaro, one of the other officers who arrived was trooper Greg Kenley of the Missouri Highway Patrol. Trooper Kenley asked me about a set of footprints coming from the driver's side of the Camaro. I told him that they must have been my prints as I had approached the driver's side of the car and turned off the ignition. Any footprints that I left on the driver's side of the car would have covered prints made by the driver of the car as he exited the car. [Emphasis mine]
That if I had been asked about any of the above information when I testified at the trial of the State of Missouri v. Richard Clay I would have testified to these facts during my trial testimony.
Though McFerren said "I don't see why I can't sign this," he decided to first check with the DA's office. The DA instructed McFerren not to sign the affidavit.
During Clay's trial, McFerren testified that he did not see how many people were in the car. During his closing argument, the prosecutor told the jury that McFerren saw only person in the car. That was untrue. McFerren did not so testify. The prosecution understood that it was important to their case that only one person be in the car. The appellate court ruled the prosecutor's distortion of the evidence as an "error" ... "harmless beyond a reasonable doubt."

During Clay's trial, Lee Boyd testified for the defense that he saw two people in the red Camaro. Don Fields, the passenger in Boyd's car, did not testify at Clay's trial. Rather than put Don Fields in the witness box and ask him how many people he saw in the car, the prosecutor instead asked Boyd: "You and Don didn't agree about how many people were in this vehicle; is that right?"  Defense counsel objected and the court sustained. Boyd never answered. The prosecutor intentionally planted into the jurors' minds, without offering any evidence, that Don Fields saw only one person. Clearly, the prosecutor understood that it was important to their case that only one person be in the car. The appellate court ruled that the defense did not properly object at the time of the question, and therefore they (the appellate judges) refused to consider whether the prosecutor was guilty of misconduct and order a new trial.

During the trial of Stacy Martindale, the same prosecutor called Don Fields as a prosecution witness and had Don Fields testify that he saw two people in the red Camaro that night.

After the trial, Randy Martindale's best friend Rayburn Evans signed an affidavit claiming he spoke with Officer McFerren. Evans affirmed that “Officer McFerren told me that he saw two people in the Camaro that he attempted to stop on the night of Randy Martindale was killed. In addition, Officer McFerren told me that no matter what they tried to make him say, he knew there were two people in the Camaro.”

After the trial, Keith Neal signed an affidavit claiming he spoke with Officer McFerren. Neal affirmed that McFerren "told me that the night of Randy Martindale's murder he stopped a vehicle with two occupants on Dawson Road for C and I driving. He thought the driver was drunk. When he approached the vehicle both doors were open, the windshield wipers were on and the motor was running. There were footprints leading away from both sides of the vehicle"

After the trial, Samatha Fitzgerald, Scott Sullivan, and Deborah Garrett each signed affidavits stating that they saw the car doors on the red Camaro open simultaneously. That would preclude the possibility that Richard Clay opened them both.

There is substantial evidence that two people were in the red Camaro that evening. One of those two was clearly Richard Clay. The area where Clay hid that night was thoroughly and extensively searched for the murder weapon. No weapon was found.

The second person in the car, assuming there was a second person, was possibly Charles Sanders, It's time to consider Charles Sanders.

Charles Sanders (Hired Killer)

Charles Sanders didn't deny that he had long been having an affair with Stacy Martindale. She told him  that one of the boys was his. She told him that Randy Martindale beat her. She told him that she would get $100,000 if something happened to Randy, and that he (Sanders) could have $10,000 of that money if he would just kill Randy for her.
.380 Caliber Bersa (sample)

Charles Sanders didn't deny discussing the murder with her. He did deny, however, that he was ever serious about killing Randy Martindale. He insisted that he never intended to go through with it.

Charles Sanders didn't deny teaching Sandy to fire a gun, specifically a .380 caliber Bersa pistol. It was merely a coincidence that the murder weapon turned out to be the same caliber and type.

Charles Sanders didn't deny receiving a check from Stacy (from Martindale Chevrolet, actually) in the amount of $4,996.36 as a down payment for him killing Randy Martindale. He never cashed that check, though. Instead he returned it to Stacy and advised her to kill Randy Martindale herself. He suggested she could claim self defense at the hands of an abusive husband. (What a swell guy!)

It seems as if Charles Sanders didn't readily volunteer the information about the check. He seems to have conceded the point only after being shown the carbon copy of the check which he had lost track of. Robert Lay, Sander's former roommate, testified he found the carbon copy in a magazine on his coffee table. Mark Kolwyck, Randy Matindale's brother-in-law and an employee (now General Manager) of Martindale Chevrolet, testified the carbon copy of the check matched one of the six checks missing from the dealership.

Charles Sanders admitted that he had, in the days following the murder, removed a box of .380 cartridges from his car and hid them in a nearby park. He claimed not to know what the murder weapon was at the time, but didn’t want anything in his car that would link him to the murder. It's curious, therefore, that he hid the .380 caliber cartridges but did not hide the Remington rifle and cartridges that were also in his car. When the police recovered and examined the .380 cartridges, they discovered that the cartridge casings had the same markings as the cartridge casings found at the murder scene.

JD's Steakhouse & Saloon, Sikeston
Charles Sanders claimed he was absolutely innocent, not in the red Camaro that night, and could prove it. He had an alibi. He was at a place called J.D.'s Lounge in Sikeston. He was with Tammy Chadd and Darrell Jones.

Tammy Chadd

This will be quick.

Tammy Chadd testified at Richard Clay's post conviction hearing that early in the evening of the murder, she told  Charles Sanders that she did not have enough money to leave town. Sanders replied that he only had fifty dollars, but that he would have more money on Friday afternoon or Saturday morning.

Tammy Chadd testified further that after the murder, Charles Sanders called her to remind her that she had seen him at J.D.'s on the night of the murder.

Darrell Jones

This will not be as quick. The information regarding Darrell Jones is primarily (almost exclusively) from Erica Burleson's excellent (but little known) article in The Webster University Journal. Because it is now very late (or very early depending one's interpretation of the early morning hours), I quote extensively from Burleson's article without further attribution.

Randy Martindale was killed with .380 bullets that came from a .380 Bersa. That weapon has never been found.

A few months before Martindale’s murder, Charles Sanders borrowed a .380 Bersa from his good bud Darrell Jones. Sanders kept the gun in his car most of the time. Several times when Richard Clay borrowed Sanders car, Clay removed the gun and left it with a friend. Clay did not want to be found with a gun in the car if pulled over by police, However, after Charles Sanders trained Stacy how to fire the .380 Bersa at a levee near New Madrid, the pistol disappeared.

By his own choice, Richard Clay has had little communication with Charles Sanders since the murder and his conviction. Clay claims, however, that in one brief conversation, Charles Sanders told him “Cousin D.J.” (Darrell Jones) gave him a ride back to Sikeston after fleeing the cops. Charles Sanders denies making the statement.

Charles Sanders did have a cellular phone though, and the police failed to check his phone records. (Of course.) Had they checked, they might have found that Sanders called Darrell Jones on the night of the murder, right around the time two people were fleeing from a red Camaro.

David Hampton, a former next-door neighbor and friend of Darrell Jones, remembers Darrell Jones receiving a frantic phone call from Charles Sanders at a party one night. The phone call was urgent enough to cause Jones to leave the party. Jones later held a gun to Hampton’s head, threatening to kill him if he said anything about the phone call.

Karen Clay, Richard Clay’s ex-wife, said Hampton told her about Jones leaving the party to give Sanders a ride back to J.D.’s Lounge. Karen started asking questions around town about Jones’ involvement. Her questions were answered when Jones held a gun to her head, threatening her life.

“He was going to kill me and I knew it. He made my life a living hell.”

Darrell Jones, she claimed, drove by her house every day at 3:30 PM and 5:30 PM so she would know he would keep good on his death threats.

Kiefer Clay, Karen and Richard Clay’s son who was six years old at the time, remembers when Darrell Jones came to his house and threatened his mother to keep quiet. They both noticed a gun sticking out of Jones’ pocket, and Kiefer was sent to his room immediately.

“I heard him say, ‘Have you told anybody?' Then I heard cussing -- lots of cussing.”

Darrell Jones later served 20 months for methamphetamine distribution and felony possession of a firearm.

The Cartridge

There is one more damning piece of evidence to deal with. From the opinion of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, we learn the following:
When Randy's homicide was reported, the police began a twelve-hour manhunt for the person whose footprints were traced from the passenger door into adjacent fields, past commercial premises, and ultimately into a swamp. During the search, Highway Patrol Officer Greg Kenley found a dry .380 caliber cartridge lying in dew-covered grass. At trial, a police expert testified that the bullet came from the same ammunition clip as the casings found at the crime scene.
Certainly this narrative looks bad for Richard Clay. Assuming Clay threw or dropped the cartridge as he fled, then he is almost certainly guilty of, or at least complicit in, the murder of Randy Martindale.

Clay claims, however, that the cartridge was found "150-200 yards" from any of his footprints. I used the quotation marks as he did. I believe he meant readers to infer that he had quoted that number from a police report or a trial transcript, though he did not reference the source. If that distance is correct, then Clay did not drop or throw that cartridge. With respect to that cartridge, the Missouri Supreme Court wrote the following:
The prosecutor stated that the victim's killer dropped the bullet. Appellant [i.e. Clay] argues that this was a misstatement of the facts because no footprints were found near the bullet. On the contrary, this statement was based on a reasonable inference from the evidence that police officers found a dry bullet in wet grass as they followed appellant's trail from the Camaro to the levee. A state's witness testified that this bullet "had been loaded into the same magazine as the fired cartridge casings recovered from the crime scene."
Clay's fingerprints were apparently not found on the cartridge. Also, the police located no other cartridge casings, or complete rounds, or a magazine, or a gun, though they searched  the area with determination. According to Clay, they even drained the body of water where they found him. No gun. No cartridges. Nothing.

In the absence of police reports and trial testimony, I'm at a loss to evaluate this evidence further.

The Prosecutors

Richard Clay was prosecuted by Riley Bock and Kenny Hulshoff. You may remember Hulshoff as the clown (the deadly clown) who prosecuted Dale Helmig. Helmig is finally free and Hulsoff is currently notorious for that egregiously wrongful conviction. Previous to Helmig, Hulsoff was notorious for the egregiously wrongful conviction of George Revelle, and before that Joshua Kezer, and before that Shirley Jo Phillips, and Faye Copeland, and Walter Storey. Hulshoff's friends and advocates describe his style as "aggressive."

As I've noted before, most of the justice and injustice in this country rests in the hands of prosecutors. Prosecutors decide who gets charged, who makes gets to make a deal, who walks, who rots, and who dies. Jurors are but a troublesome 1% speed bump in the way of speedy convictions. Most those accused by prosecutors plead to sweet deals. 80% of the 5% who refuse to deal are convicted by unskeptical jurors who foolishly put their faith in ambitious public servants immune from suit and censure.

With that in mind, let's check out how Bock and Hulshoff meted out justice for the murder of Randy Martindale.

Charles Sanders admittedly conspired with Stacy Martindale to murder Randy Martindale, the man he was cuckolding. He admitted that he trained Stacy Martindale to use the very caliber and type of weapon used to kill Randy Martindale, using a gun (now missing) lent to him by the man who is to be his alibi. He admitted to being offered and to accepting a down payment for the murder. He admitted to hiding a box of .380 cartridges identical to those used in the murder. For his alibi, he relies on Tammy Chadd (who implicates him) and Darrell Jones (who probably provided the murder weapon and means of escape.)

Bock and Hulshoff initially charged Sanders with first degree murder. While thus charged, Sanders testified as told first at Clay's trial and then at Stacy's trial. During closing argument at Clay's trial, Hulshoff assured the jury that Sanders would pay heavily for his involvement. "And in regard to Chuck Sanders, ladies and gentleman, Chuck Sanders is going to get 10 years in prison ... Let there be no mistake about it." After both Clay and Stacy were convicted, Sanders received a sentence of five years probation. He walked.

Stacy Martindale, who probably shot her husband in the neck and head until he was dead, was convicted of second degree murder. She was sentenced to fifteen years and is now walking free. In her trial, the prosecutors told the jury about the gunshot residue and expressed their opinion that she may have very well shot her husband.

Richard Clay, who may very well be completely innocent of the crime, is scheduled to die in two days. In his trial, the prosecutors never mentioned the gunshot residue on Stacy's hand and were adamant that Richard Clay hid in the closet until moments before he killed Randy Martindale.

The prosecutors decided who walked, who rotted, and who is going to die. They decided badly, and someone is going to die for their errors, but they will never ever admit it.

My Hypothesis

I obviously don't know the details of all that happened that night. I can, however, form a hypothesis that better explains the details made public, a hypothesis that makes far more sense than the nonsensical State theory of the crime. Remember, this is but a hypothesis.

Stacy and Sanders conspired to kill Randy Martindale for his life insurance policy. Stacy added to Sanders' motivation by telling him one of the two boys was his, and by telling him that her husband beat on her.

Stacy stole six checks from the car dealership and made one out to Sanders for nearly $5,000, half of what she agreed to pay him for the murder.  The checks were noted to be missing, however, and the two realized cashing the check would be their demise. They aborted on the check idea and arranged some other means of seeing that Sanders got his share. Sanders was to receive at least a portion of his share of the money one or two days after the murder, just as he told his alibi witness Tammy Chadd.

Sanders borrowed a .380 Bersa pistol from his pal Darrell Jones. He trained Stacy how to fire the pistol. Stacy took the pistol home with her.

Stacy and Sanders incorporated an unknowing, unwitting Richard Clay as the fall guy. Clay was going to end up with the red Camaro after Sanders picked up his car and Clay returned Stacy's Camaro to her house. Sanders would have an alibi at J.D.'s. Stacy would be a grieving widow who couldn't possibly have killed her husband because no gun would be found in her house. There would be no history of conspiracy between Clay and herself.

Stacy and Sanders drew Clay into their scheme that evening, first at the Radio Shack, then at Hardee's, then when Stacy wanted to by drugs. They rode back to Stacey's house in just one car, leaving Sanders' car behind, so that they would have an excuse to put Clay alone in Stacy's Camaro.

To make it all work, however, no one could hear the shots that killed Randy Martindale. And no one did. The neighbors were awakened, if you will recall, by Stacy's screams rather than by any of four gunshots from a .380 Bersa pistol or the screeching of Camaro tires making a hasty escape. I presume therefore, that Stacy used a silencer when she shot and killed her husband.

After shooting Randy Martindale, Stacy stepped out of the door, summoned Sanders and passed him the pistol. Sanders told Clay that Stacy wouldn't be going out, that they would have to go get his (Sander's) car and return Stacy's car. It went without saying that Sanders would drive his car and Clay would drive Stacy's car.

The plan fell apart for two reasons. First, Sanders inadvertently brought attention to the car by dragging along a toy tractor. Second, Stacy intended to burn Sanders just as she intended to burn Clay. Rather than give them time to get Clay alone in Stacy's car, Stacy sounded the alarm as soon as Sanders and Clay were out of hearing range. Stacy ran to the neighbors screaming "They shot him," intentionally using the plural pronoun.

The plan might have worked if the carbon copy of the check had not been found and if both Sanders and Clay had been caught in her car. Sanders, however, escaped by calling Darrell Jones. Jones extracted Sanders while the cops searched the other side of the road for Clay.

Sanders called Tammy Chadd after the murder and reminded her that she was his alibi. There was likely money involved.

Jones spent his time threatening those few people who knew about the frantic call he took that night.

When all is said and done, Stacy, Sanders, and Jones will be walking free as Missouri sticks a needle in Clay's arm two days from today.

It's now 3:31 AM. I've been composing for I don't know how long, and I know it's all been absolutely futile.

I'll check for typos and grammos tomorrow. For now, I'm going to go to sleep with the expectation I'll awake in a little while. I'll think about what it feels like to fight off a sleep from which I'll never awake.


Anonymous said...

Nice theory but the one flaw in your theory is that more then just 2 people testified that Chuck Sanders was in Sikeston at the time of the murder. At Stacey trial they actually had 6 people testify to that fact. So maybe you can discount the two tesimonies you have mentioned but what about the other 4....I believe that someone was with Rick that night but him saying it was Chuck Sanders made him look like a liar to the jury. I suggest you look at Stacey trial transcripts and come up with a better theory.

tsj said...

I would be eager to read the transcripts of Stacy's trial, and the transcripts of Clay's trial, and all the police reports, and the autopsy report, and all depositions, and all affidavits. I would appreciate any links or leads on how I might get hold of them.

If the police were so convinced of Sander's alibis, why did they hold a first-degree murder conviction over his head until he was done testifying against the other two?

Anonymous said...

I think Rick was just an easy target because of previous mistakes. Getting people to testify "they saw someone someplace" is easy. Why did they not bring forth that testimony at Ricky's trial? They left out lots of information that would have supported Ricky and his innocence. Chuck Sanders was involved with Stacey and had reasons to want Martindale out of the picture if you believe Stacey's story of being a battered spouse. Ricky Clay was railroaded!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

If I remember correctly Stacey's trial took place in Perryville. I am sure that you could get the records at the county court house. I have found bits and pieces here and there but most is being used to make Rick look good so the fact that Sanders' albi was so strong is not mentioned.
I am in no way saying that the prosecution was perfect. They held that charge over Sanders head because they were mad that he didn't know more. They had hoped when they made the deal with him that he would have enough info. to implicate both Rick and Stacey. He didn't have what they felt was substantial info....yet they were able to convict Rick. In my opinion Ricks lawyers didn't do him justice. But if you believe Rick's story then you also must believe that Stacey or someone else in that house did the crime...
Also another flaw in your story is the fact that Rick makes no mention of Stacey handing anything off to Sanders. By the time of the trial Rick would have understood that he was the fall man if your theory were correct, and he would have said so if he saw any sign of Stacey handing Sanders anything.
It almost seems like Rick while saying that Sanders was with him, in no other way implicates Sanders. As a matter of a fact if I remember correctly he states his knowledge of Sanders with-drawing from the consiracy. Doesn't sound like someone that blames Sanders for his situation...

Anonymous said...

Darrell Jones was not an alibi for anyone. He actually testified against Stacy. Karen Clay does not even know Mr.Jones or what he even looks like. None of your theory here even makes sense. Jones was a truckdriver and just got in off the road and had an alibi all night. Besides, none of these statements were even made until after all the trials were over. They were only made up for appeal purposes. I dont know who killed Mr. Martindale or who was with Rick Clay but to make up lies just for appeal purposes is just plain wrong.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your story. It goes right along w/ everything I have read as well. The question remains... IS THIS CASE w/out ANY DOUBT that it was Ricky Clay who pulled the trigger and killed Randy Martindale? I don't care if there are debates about Chuck's alibi or Darrel Jone's involvement...we need to be asking ourselves if this case is so airtight that it deems a man to be executed? IF there is ANY doubt, then Ricky Clay should have a new trial. I would think that even the staunchest Death Penalty proponents would insist on TRUTH deciding the fate of Ricky Clay, not INJUSTICE. We all lose if Ricky Clay is executed.

Anonymous said...

I do not know all the facts, but one thing that I do know is that Karen Clay does certainly know Darrell Jones!! She has known him ever since she was married to Rick Clay.

Anonymous said...

No, you do not know the facts. You know and repeat the lies you have been told. Plain and Simple!

Anonymous said...

I can't believe I am just finding this post. I have known Rick Clay and his family since he was 10 years old. Through all the good and bad decisions he has made in his life. You have this about as accurate as it could be!!! I was at his arraignment, his trial and was to be at his execution up until the Governor converted his sentence to life without parole. Ask yourself, why would he do that even after the appellate court refused to issue a stay? Because after reading all the transcripts and evidence he knew something wasn't right and he didn't want the death of an innocent man on his conscience. Rick was selling drugs and Rick deserved to do time for that but he DID NOT kill anyone and DOES NOT deserve to spend the rest of his life in prison. He has missed his son grow up, marry and experience life without his father. Stacy walks free as Chuck does for a crime they are both responsible for. Josh Kezer has been a staunch supporter of RIck and is much appreciated. Prosecutors like Hulshoff must be stopped and held accountable. Josh Kezer lost 16 years of his life in prison for a murder he did not commit in Benton because of Hulshoff and his criminal acts of withholding evidence from the defense. I pray that one day Rick will see the justice that Josh has, if not, then I would not want to be Stacy or Chuck the day they stand in front of the Lord in judgement. They truly will reap what they have sown.

Anonymous said...

the reason rick didn't rat out his friends is that he has honor amongst thieves, he did not want to be the one that was the rat. he did not know that he was being set up by the same people that were going to screw him. im glad he was commuted but needs a new trial as what should of happened but was denied in 2001.

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