CAO to ask judge to overturn Chris Dunn’s conviction

Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner filed a motion to overturn the conviction of Christopher Dunn, who was convicted of killing a man in 1990 in north St. Louis.
Published: May. 15, 2023 at 9:03 AM CDT|Updated: May. 15, 2023 at 9:50 AM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - On Friday, Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner filed a motion to overturn the conviction of Christopher Dunn, who was convicted of killing a man in 1990 in north St. Louis.

Dunn, 51, has been incarcerated for almost 33 years. He was convicted for killing Ricco Rogers, 15, in 1990 in north St. Louis. In a statement from the Circuit Attorney’s Office, Gardner says there is “clear and convincing evidence” supporting Dunn’s innocence.

Chris Dunn’s Legal Team released the following statement on Monday:

“On Friday, May 12, 2023, the St. Louis Circuit Attorney filed a motion to vacate Christopher Dunn’s conviction because Chris is innocent. Her office is not the only official to have made such a finding. On September 20, 2020, Texas County Circuit Court Judge William Hickle ruled that Christopher Dunn is innocent of the crimes for which he has spent over thirty years in prison, but was unable to overturn Chris’ conviction and free him because in Missouri innocence alone does not allow a court to release a defendant from prison unless that incarcerated person is sentenced to death.

“Missouri is the only state in the nation to limit innocence claims by a defendant’s sentence. Until the legislature changes the law, only a prosecutor can petition a court to free an innocent defendant sentenced to anything less than death. Recognizing this injustice and acting on her ethical duty to do justice, the Circuit Attorney has filed a motion to vacate Chris’ conviction and asks the Court to free him. 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. We are confident that when faced with such evidence, any Court will find, as Judge Hickle did nearly three years ago, that Christopher Dunn is innocent.”

A judge agreed Dunn has legally proven he’s innocent under what’s considered a “freestanding claim of innocence.” But the judge pointed out Missouri law is only clear in death penalty cases- not others. The judge has the decision whether to vacate or set aside judgement.

Case falls apart

The case again Chris Dunn has fallen apart. It wasn’t much to begin with.

No physical evidence ever linked Dunn to the crime.

The trial hinged on eyewitness testimony of young teens running away from gunshots in the dark.

30 years ago, the teens were compelling in court claiming Dunn must have killed Ricco Rogers over gang affiliations.

Now, they both admitted they lied.

One witness is now serving time for first-degree murder. His sworn affidavit reads, “I lied on Chris Dunn to save myself.” The document claims there was pressure from police and prosecutors and a deal for a troubled preteen.

The other claims he was pressured by police and prosecutors and the dead teenager’s mother. He admits, “We decided that we would both testify that it was Christopher Dunn who killed Recco. The truth is that we did not know who shot at us and killed Recco.”

The new filing states:

During the police interviews, Michael Davis was hesitant about whether he could identify Dunn as the person who shot Rogers. (Id. ). But when he hesitated, police showed the boy gruesome photos of Rogers’ corpse, and pressured him, asking “Are you gonna let them do this to your friend?” Police also arranged to have Rogers’ mother call Davis, who through tears pushed him to testify and get rid of this “monster.” Just 12 years old, in the face of all this pressure, Davis was convinced to appear in court and identify Dunn as the shooter.

Additional witnesses

The most compelling witness might be Recco’s best friend. He was there that night and ran home to tell Recco’s mother what happened. The teenager says Recco was like a brother. He even lived with Recco’s family for periods in his life. No one bothered to interview him.

“I was standing right next to Recco when he was shot. I was positive that none of us could see or identify the shooter.... I would have testified that Chris Dunn’s name come up after the shooting as speculation, and from there, people began to believe the shooter had been Chris Dunn, even though none of us could see the shooter.”

The detailed affidavit reveals neighborhood motivations due to gang affiliations and a girl.

Dunn has a parade of alibi witnesses. His family was with him when gunshots rang out.

Additionally, two women have stood by Dunn claiming they were talking with him on the phone that night. It was just normal conversation. One woman is sure of the date and time because she was in the hospital after giving birth and was watching the TV show “Hunter.”

The other woman was a teenager at the time of the shooting and her mother refused to let her participate in a trial due to rumored gang activity being the root cause of the murder.

Dunn is now represented in part by the Midwest Innocence Project. It’s the same Innocence Project which supported Strickland and Johnson and successfully won their releases.