Chris Dunn’s lawyer hopeful for freedom after visit with Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner

Chris Dunn’s lawyer hopeful circuit attorney’s office or U.S. Supreme Court will help free Dunn
Published: Mar. 9, 2023 at 6:48 PM CST
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ST. LOUIS (KMOV) - The lawyer for an incarcerated St. Louis man is hopeful his client will get freedom after a meeting with the city’s top prosecutor.

On Thursday, Justin Bonus, the lawyer for Chris Dunn, confirmed to News 4 that a meeting with the City of St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office (CAO) happened Wednesday.

Bonus and the Dunn family are hopeful the CAO’s Conviction Integrity Unit will file a petition to the courts for Dunn to get a new trial.

In 2021, Missouri enacted a law allowing prosecutors to file a petition to free prisoners who are believed to be innocent but have exhausted their appeals. The law allows a prosecutor to file a motion to vacate or set aside a judgment at any time if they have information that the convicted person may be innocent or may have been erroneously convicted.

Dunn’s mother, Martha Dunn, expressed concerns regarding Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s ongoing criticism from local and state leaders.

“Ms. Gardner, she has enough stuff of her own that she’s trying to get straightened out,” Martha told News 4. “I’ve been sick for the last four months. I done had surgery twice, and I don’t know how long I got to be here. So that is my prayer, to see him [Chris Dunn] come home. It hurts. It hurts a lot.”

“The public safety issue is when the police and the prosecutors and the judges don’t admit they got it wrong,” Bonus said.

Last year, Bonus filed a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court to decide if Dunn’s incarceration is unconstitutional after a judge acknowledged in 2020 that Dunn meets the criteria to be innocent. The Missouri Supreme Court has refused to hear Dunn’s case.

A Missouri Supreme Court case in 2016 (Lincoln v. Cassady) ruled claims of freestanding innocence are relegated to death row inmates. That ruling set the precedent of only allowing prosecutors to file a motion to vacate or set aside a judgment at any time if they have information that the death row inmate may be innocent or may have been erroneously convicted, excluding all other convicted felons.

In 1991, Dunn was convicted for a deadly shooting of 15-year-old Recco Rogers the year before in St. Louis. DeMorris Stepp, 14 at the time, and Michael Davis, 12 at the time, accused Dunn of the shooting and testified against him. They later admitted they lied about Dunn’s involvement. No DNA ever tied Dunn to the murder.

Dunn claimed police and his public defender didn’t check out his alibi. Martha Dunn said Chris was with her and several other family members the night of the murder.

The Missouri Attorney General’s Office recently filed a response against Chris Dunn’s release to the U.S. Supreme Court petition filed by Bonus.

“I’m baffled why the AG is taking this position that they’re taking just to keep a man - what’s the purpose,” Bonus added.

The Missouri Attorney General’s Office continues to tell News 4 it won’t comment on pending cases. The Circuit Attorney’s Office hasn’t replied to News 4′s request for comment as of Thursday night.

There’s no timeline on when the U.S. Supreme court or Kim Gardner’s Office will make a decision on Dunn’s case.