Claiming wrongful conviction, Missouri prisoner asks US Supreme Court to review case

Published: Dec. 29, 2022 at 2:31 PM CST
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - Missouri prisoner, Chris Dunn, is asking the United States Supreme Court to review his murder conviction challenging legal precedent which currently limits a judge’s ability to release prisoners who claim they are innocent.

Dunn is convicted in the 1990 Saint Louis murder of Ricco Rogers.

The case was built on two young eyewitnesses now admitting they lied to get Dunn off the streets because they perceived him as a rival.

The best friend of the murder victim has stepped forward saying there is no way anyone could have seen anything in the dark. But he wasn’t interviewed by police after the murder.

Dunn has alibi witnesses which include his family and two women. One woman gives a clear date and time stamp to her phone conversation because she was in the hospital having a baby. She said she remembers the show “Hunter” playing in the background during her phone call.

There is no physical evidence connected Dunn to the case. Dunn also claimed during a recent interview that he didn’t even know the murder victim.

“That person’s a stranger,” Dunn claimed.

He has had limited success in courts fighting for his freedom.

In 2020, an evidentiary hearing was held where a Missouri judge agreed no jury would now convict Chris Dunn with the evidence as it stands today. But the judge did not release Dunn pointing out, “A freestanding claim of actual innocence is only cognizable for a petitioner who has been sentenced to death, and is unavailable for cases in which the death penalty has not been imposed.”

It was appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court which declined even to review the ruling, a crushing blow for Dunn and others claiming to be innocent.

“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 logic is that?” questioned Dunn.

A newly filed petition asks the U.S. Supreme Court to review his case and address the murkiness in Missouri’s legal precedent that gives judges the power to free those on death row but not those sentenced to life in prison.

It questions if it is cruel and unusual punishment to leave a man in prison when even a judge agrees a jury would not convict that person today.

It’s a legal long shot. Thousands of petitions are filed every year with the court, and about 2 percent are actually heard.

Another path to freedom

Missouri lawmakers recently passed Senate Bill 53, which now gives prosecutors the power to bring old cases back to court.

Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters Baker utilized it in Kevin Strickland’s case. He was freed after serving 43 years in prison.

Saint Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner is challenging Lamar Johnson’s conviction. He has been locked up for 28 years and swears he’s innocent too.

But other prisoners and their families want their own path to court independent of prosecutors. They point out not all prosecutors have conviction integrity units. Others are critical of prosecutors not selecting their cases despite new information.

Dunn’s case falls under the jurisdiction of Saint Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner.

Her office sent this statement:

“The Circuit Attorney’s Office takes manifest injustice claims seriously. It is in the best interest of our City and State to ensure that convictions levied on individuals are correct according to the available evidence and constitutional law. To that end, we will continue to seek justice in cases where we determine action is required to address a wrongful conviction.”

For more KCTV5 Investigates stories, click here.