Reopen Case of Alleged Murderer Who Was on Death Row

Target: California State Attorney General Kamala Harris

Goal: Reopen the case against Kenneth Clair, jailed for murder despite evidence exonerating him.

A man has remained in jail for 31 years despite a botched trial and new DNA evidence pointing to his innocence. Kenneth Clair was arrested for allegedly committing the brutal sexual assault and murder of a 25-year old babysitter with cerebral palsy in 1984. Clair had been squatting in an abandoned house next door and was arrested when he was found nearby. He had recently gotten out of prison for purse snatching and after a trial for the murder, was given the death penalty.

Evidence in the trial was conflicting, but key pieces peg Clair as a scapegoat and not a murderer. A different person’s DNA was found on the body, and two of the children – who were in the next room at the time of the attack – recalled seeing a white man. Clair is black. For 31 years he sat on death row for the crime. The trial had mishandlings. A defense attorney, who was new to the job at the time, admitted his own hubris got the better of him during the questionings. And Clair’s ex-girlfriend made statements that Clair could not deny the murder, but later recanted those statements.

His death sentence has been downgraded to life in prison without parole, but it means that he no longer has the right to a lawyer, nor is he guaranteed a retrial. Key DNA evidence has been withheld that would likely exonerate Clair. Regardless of who committed the crime, Clair deserves another trial to fix the mistakes of his first trial, and to introduce new evidence. Clair has been sitting in prison for 31 years with evidence that points to another person, and this case deserves to be closed.


Dear Attorney General Harris,

We urge you to reopen the case against Kenneth Clair. Overturning his death sentence was one step, but Clair deserves a more proper trial. The trial that led to his death sentence was filled with mistakes and missing information. Evidence points against Clair being the murderer, and it is inhumane to leave him in prison for over three decades with evidence that was never brought into the case.

He is no longer guaranteed the right to an attorney, and that means that you have to reopen the case. Multiple people have admitted they made mistakes, or have since recanted statements against Clair. And it is unfair to discredit witnesses because they are children, especially when two separate children both distinctly recalled seeing a tattooed white man.

Clair deserves the fair trial he never got 31 years ago. Clair did not confess, and the DNA evidence contradicts his life sentence conviction. Please see to it that Clair finally gets the trial he should be granted under law.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: TryJimmy

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