Missouri man swears he’s innocent, would legally have been better off sentenced to death

(KCTV5 News)
Updated: Aug. 30, 2021 at 10:00 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- There are very few people who would be better off if they had been sentenced to death but that’s the case with Chris Dunn.

He’s convicted in a 1990 Saint Louis murder of a teenager named, Recco Rogers. Dunn swears he’s innocent and a judge agrees he’s legally proven he’s innocent under what’s considered a “freestanding claim of innocence.”

But the judge pointed out Missouri law is only clear in death penalty cases- not others.

Dunn has the misfortune of being sentenced to life plus 90 years.

“They would have let me go a long time ago,” sighed Dunn. “I hate waking up in prison, every day I’d rather go to sleep and not wake up until they come up with a ruling.”

Dunn has spent his entire adult life in prison.

Case falls apart

The case again Chris Dunn has fallen apart. It wasn’t much to begin with.

No physical evidence ever linked Dunn to the crime.

The trial hinged on eyewitness testimony of a 12 and 14 year-old running away from gunshots in the dark.

30 years ago, the teens were compelling in court claiming Dunn must have killed Recco Rogers over gang affiliations.

Now, they both admitted they lied.

One witness is now serving time for first degree murder. His sworn affidavit reads, “I lied on Chris Dunn to save myself.” The document claims there was pressure from police and prosecutors and a deal for a troubled preteen.

The other claims he was pressured by police and prosecutors and the dead teenager’s mother. He admits, “We decided that we would both testify that it was Christopher Dunn who killed Recco. The truth is that we did not know who shot at us and killed Recco.

“There it is! I’m still in prison? It don’t make no sense. It was enough evidence! It was good enough evidence for you to convict me, but still is not good enough evidence for you to free me now? What, What logic that?” questions Dunn.

New witness

The most compelling witness might be Recco’s best friend. He was there that night and ran home to tell Recco’s mother what happened. The teenager says Recco was like a brother. He even lived with Recco’s family for periods in his life. No one bothered to interview him.

“I was standing right next to Recco when he was shot. I was positive that none of us could see or identify the shooter....I would have testified that Chris Dunn’s name come up after the shooting as speculation, and from there, people began to believe the shooter had been Chris Dunn, even though none of us could see the shooter.”

The detailed affidavit reveals neighborhood motivations due to gang affiliations and a girl.

Alibi witness

Dunn has a parade of alibi witnesses. His family was with him when gunshots rang out.

Additionally, two women have stood by Dunn claiming they were talking with him on the phone that night. It was just normal conversation. One woman is sure of the date and time because she was in the hospital after giving birth and was watching the TV show “Hunter.”

The other woman was a teenager at the time of the shooting and her mother refused to let her participate in a trial due to rumored gang activity being the root cause of the murder.

Supreme Court must decide

All of this information has been presented in court documents and heard in open court.

A judge refused to free Dunn pointing to Missouri’s confusing laws regarding innocence claims.

“A freestanding claim of actual innocence is only cognizable for a petitioner who has been sentence to death, and is unavailable for cases in which the death penalty has not been imposed.”

Dunn and his legal team are appealing the ruling to the Missouri Supreme Court. His case could have important legal ramifications for prisoners across Missouri who claim to be innocent.

“If you think that I’m guilty of a crime, then give me a new trial. Give me a fresh shot! I deserve that,” said Dunn.

Dunn is supported by the Innocence Project “Miracles of Innocence.” It was started by two men served lengthy convictions for murders they did not commit.

If you’d like to learn more or support this effort, click here.