Richard Clay, 45, is set to be executed for his part in a murder-for-hire plot in Southeast Missouri 16 years ago. His attorney and his family say he’s innocent.

Jennifer Herndon, Clay's attorney, explains the facts of the case. A photo of Clay sits in front of her on the dais.

Jennifer Herndon is a criminal defense attorney who has been fighting the courts for death-row inmate Richard Clay’s release for 12 years. She says it’s a case of Clay being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Clay was convicted in the shooting death of Randy Martindale in New Madrid County. Witnesses said Clay was hired by his estranged wife — Stacy Martindale — who served 15 years for her part in the crime. She is now free — Herndon says she has not been able to get any comment from her on the killing since her release, but that she’s trying.

Clay’s 22-year-old son, Kiefer, pleads for Governor Nixon to stop the execution. He says his father is a good, Christian man, and he didn’t commit the crime.

Clay is scheduled to die by lethal injection January 12th.

Clay’s attorney and family say evidence was railroaded by then Prosecutor Kenny Hulshoff, who aided Southeast Missouri Prosecutor Riley Bock in the case.

Kiefer Clay says his father is innocent.

Herndon and other opponents of the death penalty point to two cases where the men convicted of killings have been exonerated because a judge found their cases were misrepresented under the prosecution of Kenny Hulshof.

Hulshof did not return a call for comment.

A federal judge threw out Clay’s 1995 conviction in 2001 and ordered a new trial, but an appeals court upheld the original conviction, which held the death sentence in place.

Dale Helmig and Josh Kezer were both set free after a judge ruled that evidence was kept from attorneys by Hulshof.

Herndon says her next step is to file for an emergency stay of execution with the Missouri Supreme Court later this week.

Jessica Machetta reports [Listen, Mp3, 1:11 min.]