Stop the execution of a wrongfully convicted man, Kimber Edwards To be killed by the State of Missouri on October 6, 2015
Kimber Edwards was sentenced to death for the August 22, 2000 murder of his ex-wife, Kimberly Cantrell. The actual shooter, Orthell Wilson, lied to police several times, even saying the victim was a complete stranger he’d been hired to kill. Orthell Wilson’s later admission that victim Kimberly Cantrell was actually his girlfriend is substantiated by several neighbors who witnessed the two together as a couple on multiple occasions.
1. False Testimony 2. Coerced Confession 3. Prosecutorial Misconduct
I. In 2015, Orthell Wilson signed a sworn affidavit that he acted alone in killing his girlfriend Kimberly Cantrell. The couple often fought over Orthell’s drug addiction and constant need for money. It’s what their heated argument was about on August 22, 2000, the day Orthell shot Kimberly to death, unintentionally, in the heat of the moment.
This truth makes sense given the re-enactment of the crime police did with Orthell Wilson at the apartment where Kimberly was murdered. On the way to the scene, Orthell grew visibly distraught; police had to pull over to calm him down. Inside the apartment, Orthell “fell to the floor upset and crying.” This behavior is not consistent with murder for hire of a total stranger. It is completely consistent with an unintended shooting of a lover. One part of Orthell’s version of events is plausible: Kimberly was startled, she screamed, Orthell panicked, and the gun went off.
In the interrogation room in 2000, Orthell Wilson was panicked for a different reason – he could face a death sentence for murdering Kimberly Cantrell. Police already had their suspect – Kimberly Cantrell’s ex-husband Kimber Edwards whom they’d fingered as soon as they found Kimberly’s body. So they offered Orthell Wilson a life sentence if he handed them Kimber Edwards. So he did. Orthell Wilson told police that Kimber Edwards hired him to kill Kimberly Cantrell.
But after Kimber Edwards was wrongly convicted for this murder, Orthell Wilson felt bad. He stepped forward to set the record straight, but Kimber Edwards’ attorneys did nothing in response to Orthell’s recantation. Not until 2015 has Orthell Wilson’s truth been recorded in a sworn format, an affidavit. In it, he states, “Kimber Edwards is completely innocent.” Kimber Edwards never asked Orthell to harm Kimberly Cantrell. Orthell Wilson acted alone.
2. The only other “evidence” against Kimber Edwards is his own statement to police. But that statement was also coerced. Reflexively targeting him, police took Kimber Edwards and his current wife and two small children to the station, putting the children in a separate squad car from their parents. For seven hours of interrogation, Kimber Edwards proclaimed his innocence. Then an officer put in motion the removal of Kimber’s daughter from his home on the grounds that her father was a suspect in the death of the girl’s mother. The child was placed into immediate DFS custody and taken from the station. Kimber’s current wife was also interrogated and fingerprinted. Police brought Kimber out of his interrogation room to watch his wife be photographed.
Kimber Edwards finally agreed to tell the police what they wanted to hear, if they would leave his family alone. Self-incriminating statements were coerced. They are additionally unreliable because Kimber Edwards has an autistic spectrum mental disorder. It makes an individual susceptible to suggestion. In fact, to minimize victimization, many law enforcement agencies have issued guidelines and manuals to instruct personnel on care and precautions to be taken when dealing with witnesses or suspects on the spectrum.
3. Finally, Edwards suffered from prosecutorial misconduct, since all African-American jurors were deliberately excluded from his jury pool. In St. Louis County, this racially infected approach to criminal justice has been the source of public outcry. Today, even with substantial doubts about his guilt, a wrongfully convicted man, Kimber Edwards, is facing imminent execution, while the actual shooter, Orthell Wilson, has a life sentence.
• Missouri is burying its mistakes, and has executed 17 men since November 2013. • The Death Penalty in Missouri is Broken. The 2012 Assessment Study said Missouri is “substantially out of compliance” with the American Bar Association guidelines, and made 94 recommendations for reform. Not one has been implemented by the State. • According to a 2013 study by the Death Penalty Information Center St. Louis County ranked #9 among jurisdictions in the nation in executions.
CONTACT Gov. Jay Nixon, urging him to commute his death sentence. Call 573-751-3222; write a letter– mailing it to Rm 216, State Capitol, Jefferson City MO 65101, fax it via 573-751-1495 or e-mail via www.governor.mo.gov. CONTACT Attorney General Chris Koster’s office, encouraging him to cease pushing for executions, including the killing of Mr. Edwards. Call 573-751-3321, write: PO Box 899, Jefferson City MO 652101 or e-mail www.ago.mo.gov.