Richard Clay
3:35 pm
Mon January 10, 2011

Nixon commutes death sentence for Clay

UPDATED 6:08 p.m. Jan. 10, 2011 with comment from Clay's attorney:

Last week we told you that supporters of Richard Clay asked Mo. Gov. Jay Nixon to halt Clay's execution. Well, now it seems that Nixon has granted their request.

The governor issued the following statement this afternoon:

“After an exhaustive review, I am convinced of Richard Clay’s involvement in the senseless murder of Randy Martindale and find that the evidence clearly supports the jury’s verdict of murder in the first degree.

Having looked at this matter in its entirety and after significant thought and counsel, I have concluded, however, to exercise my constitutional authority and commute Richard Clay’s sentence to life without the possibility of parole. Richard Clay’s involvement in this crime is clear, and he must, and will, serve the remainder of his life behind bars for his role in this heinous act.”

Mo. Attorney General Chris Koster commented on Nixon's decision.

“These are difficult decisions constitutionally vested with the Governor of our state," Koster said in a statement, “I am confident that Governor Nixon gave this case careful consideration and I respect his decision. ”

Jennifer Herndon is Clay’s attorney and she had this to say after the announcement:

“Rick’s case is complicated, and it takes people a long time and a lot of searching through the case to figure out that Rick is innocent. ”

Herndon says Clay fled police the night of the murder because he had drugs on him.  She also says she’ll continue to work to get him a new trial.