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Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016

Death penalty stands

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

NEW MADRID - The death sentence of a man accused of murder was reimposed by the Eighth District Circuit Court.

The court ruled Richard D. Clay, who had appealed the death sentence imposed for the May 19, 1994, murder of Randy Martindale, should have his death sentence reinstated in their ruling issued Monday.

Justice Alonzo Loken, who heard the case along with two other Eighth Circuit judges, ruled the district court erred in concluding the guilt phase of Clay's death penalty trial was tainted. The judges reinstated the death penalty originally imposed by a jury.

Also the court ruled any undisclosed information about a witness's plea agreement was immaterial, and the affidavit the witness supplied in support of Clay's habeas petition was not inconsistent with his trial testimony and did not amount to a recantation of his trial testimony. "With respect to claim that government failed to disclose the existence of three witnesses, there was no showing the prosecution knew of the witnesses or had any basis to believe they may have had exculpatory evidence," the judge wrote in opinion, pointing out Clay did know of these witnesses at the time of his post-conviction claim and his failure to build an adequate record about them is fatal to his claim.

The court also noted Clay's claims of footprints at the scene was not supported by the evidence and rejected his claims of ineffective counsel.

Martindale was shot four times in his home in New Madrid on the night of May 19, 1994, in front of his estranged wife, Stacy Martindale. Shortly after the shooting, New Madrid police officer Claude McFerren spotted Mrs. Martindale's vehicle with a child's toy lodged beneath it. When the officer attempted to stop the vehicle, it accelerated. A short time later the vehicle was discovered abandoned with both doors opened.

Officers later tracked Clay to a swamp area and arrested him.

In July 1995, Clay was sentenced to death by a Callaway County jury. Martindale's wife was later convicted in connection with the case and is serving a sentence at the Department of Corrections facility in Chillicothe.

H. Riley Bock, who was serving as the New Madrid County prosecuting attorney at the time of the trials for Clay and Mrs. Martindale, said he was pleased the court had not found any trial errors on the prosecution's part.

"Now that this is resolved," Bock said. "I would hope it would set in the motion the jury's decision in 1995 ordering the execution of Richard Clay for the murder of Randy Martindale in May of 1994."