A decade-long struggle to overturn the suicide ruling on the death of minority contractor Robert Clay is finally gaining traction
STEPHEN JANIS, PRODUCER, TRNN: This is the scene of one of the most notorious death investigations in Baltimore’s recent past. Here, inside this nondescript office in Baltimore’s Reservoir Hill neighborhood, the body of politically connected contractor Robert Clay was found sprawled across the first-floor landing, dead from a gunshot wound to the head. It was a death that would have repercussions across the city, particularly for his family, who believe the case was mishandled by police. May 16th, 2015 will be 10 years of Robert Clay, of his death. It’s been a long journey, a long fight, and we will continue to fight until we have justice for him. JANIS: The medical examiner quickly ruled the case a suicide, even as relatives argued the man who was a staunch advocate for minority business would not take his own life. They pointed to the fact that Clay was right handed, and shot himself holding the gun in his left hand. They worried that the bullet from the stolen .38 Smith & Wesson was never found. And they argued that the state medical examiner should have released the gunshot residue analysis – key evidence that would have proven beyond a doubt Clay fired the bullet that pierced his skull and left him lying in a puddle of blood in his own office. Nobody investigated, and nobody did anything. All they took are pictures. JANIS: But despite years of effort, the family’s pleas fell upon deaf ears, until now. Last week, The Real News Network learned City Prosecutor Marilyn Mosby has begun to review evidence from the case. This includes a meeting with several relatives of Clay, a meeting they said was productive. Even more important for Robert’s cousin Sheryl was that for the first time she felt the city’s top lawyer was paying attention. I believe she believe in justice, you know, in seeing justice wherever you have to go. JANIS; The timing is fortuitous. Last month, an array of current and former city leaders sent a letter to Mosby asking her to review the evidence – among them, former mayor Kurt Schmoke, and former Congressman Kweisi Mfume. In the letter, they outline new evidence in the case, including a person of interest identified by the city’s inspector general, who they asked city prosecutors to interview. The path to Mosby’s review has been long and circuitous. In 2010 the inspector general found critical omissions in the initial investigation, including that investigators never checked Clay’s cell phone records, even after several friends told police he had received death threats shortly before he died. We asked Mosby’s office for comment. They declined to say anything specific that might harm the investigation. Now the family says Mosby has not only agreed to review the case, but has requested a follow up meeting in April. Stephen Janis, reporting for The Real News Network in Baltimore.