Will Missouri Ever Recognize Innocence?

It is June 16, 2022. More than a year and a half after Judge William Hickle wrote in his order than Christopher Dunn clearly meets the standards for both gateway and freestanding actual innocence. More than a year and a half since Chris should have walked out of prison as a free man and welcomed into the arms of his family. More than a year and half since the case against Chris should have been reopened, to finally locate the real killer who took the victim from his family 32 years ago.

If the judge declared Chris innocent, why is Chris still not free? As the judge explained in his order, he felt that the Lincoln v. Cassady precedent prevented him from releasing Chris.

Why? Because Chris is not a death row inmate.

Try to wrap your head around that. If Chris had been sentenced to death, he would be free now. Proving his innocence in court would have been enough to free him – but for the Lincoln v. Cassady precedent.

Chris has a life without parole sentence – just as fatal as a lethal injection, though it takes longer. So, there he sits behind bars, day by day, waiting for the next heart attack.

Meanwhile, Missouri continues to allow the insane Lincoln v. Cassady ruling to stand. It was a terrible ruling, based on a faulty interpretation of the Amrine v. Roper decision. It has had disastrous consequences for many innocent people – not just Chris.

Why have the Missouri legislative and judiciary branches failed to fix this illogical, unconstitutional ruling that flies in the face of the rule of law? Even the Missouri Supreme Court has repeatedly skirted opportunities to address Lincoln v. Cassady, as it did when it refused to hear Christopher Dunn’s case without explanation.

SB 1201 was introduced to address the problem this year, but didn’t even make it onto the debate calendar.

What will it take for innocence to matter in Missouri? And will it happen before Chris’ heart gives out?

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