St. Louis prosecutor seeks release of man sentenced to life for murder officials say he didn’t commit

Francis Akhalbey May 16, 2023
In 1991, Christopher Dunn, 52, was sentenced to life in prison without parole -- Photo Credit: Kira Dunn via AP

Fifty-two-year-old Christopher Dunn was 19 when he was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the shooting death of a teenager in 1990. Court documents that were filed on Friday seeking a Missouri court to dismiss his conviction stated that no physical evidence linked the incarcerated Black man to the murder of Ricco Rogers, CNN reported.

The documents also stated that the eyewitness testimony of a 15-year-old and a 12-year-old was used as a basis to convict Dunn, adding that those two individuals later recanted their testimony under oath and admitted they gave a false account of the murder.

Dunn’s mother and sister also took the stand during the appeals process, testifying that the incarcerated Black man was watching television at home on the night Rogers was killed. They further said that Dunn, who was convicted in 1991, had a phone conversation with a friend during that period as well, the motion stated.

“For the last 33 years, Mr. Dunn has been incarcerated for a crime in which there is clear and convincing evidence he did not commit,”  the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office said in a statement on Monday. “We have an ethical duty to work to correct this injustice.”

The prosecutors, in the statement, also said, they are hopeful the Black man’s “wrongful conviction is set aside for the sake of Mr. Dunn, his family, and the people of the city of St. Louis.”

The motion stated that Dunn’s case was reviewed by a Texas County Circuit Court judge in 2020. After analyzing the evidence, the judge reportedly said “The court does not believe that any jury would now convict Christopher Dunn under these facts.”

Despite the case review, Missouri law does not give the judge the power to overturn a conviction on the grounds that a person is innocent, CNN reported. That can only be done if the individual has been sentenced to death.

Lawyers for Dunn said that Missouri is the only state that has a law of such nature. “Until the legislature changes the law, only a prosecutor can petition a court to free an innocent defendant sentenced to anything less than death,” his lawyers said in a news release.

Tricia Rojo Bushnell, who is the executive director of the Midwest Innocence Project, told the news outlet that a hearing on the prosecutor’s motion will be held by a circuit court, adding that other inmates who have been wrongfully convicted have gained their freedom through this process.

Bushnell also added that though the Missouri attorney general can partake in the hearing, the decision on the motion is made by the judge. It is also unknown if a date has been set for a hearing on Dunn’s case.

“We thank the circuit attorney’s office for her efforts to pursue justice in Chris’ case, and we look forward to presenting the evidence of his innocence to the court,” Dunn’s attorneys said.

Last Edited by:Editor Updated: June 11, 2023


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