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Clemons could be free by 2020 in sisters’ bridge deaths

A Missouri man who admitted to participating in the rape and killing of two sisters who were pushed from an abandoned St. Louis bridge could be released as soon as 2020.

Reginald Clemons testifies on the third day of a hearing on Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012, at the Mel Carnahan Courthouse in St. Louis. (AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Christian Gooden)

Reginald Clemons (AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Christian Gooden)

Reginald Clemons, 47, has his first parole board hearing next June because the killings of 19-year-old Robin Kerry and 20-year-old Julie Kerry occurred before 1994, when the Legislature began imposing mandatory-minimum prison terms for violent felonies. Missouri Department of Corrections spokesman Garry Brix says Clemons’ earliest eligible release date is Nov. 9, 2020.

Clemons was convicted of the April 4, 1991 murders of the Kerry sisters, and sentenced to death. He was 19 at the time of the murders. The sisters were gang-raped and pushed off the Chain of Rocks Bridge into the Mississippi River. Their cousin, Thomas Cummins, jumped off the bridge and survived. The bridge spans the river on the north edge of St. Louis.

The Missouri Supreme Court overturned his convictions in 2015, finding that prosecutors suppressed evidence that police had beaten a confession out of him, and ordered a new trial. In December 2017, however, he pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder, two counts of rape and one count of first degree robbery, and was sentenced to five consecutive life terms. He’s simultaneously serving a 15-year term for assaulting a prison guard in 2007.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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