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Morning headlines: Monday, September 17, 2012

(via Flickr/Indofunk Satish)

Clemons hearing today in St. Louis courtroom

The effort to free Reginald Clemons from Missouri's death row goes to a St. Louis courtroom starting today.

Clemons was one of four men convicted in the 1991 killings of two St. Louis-area sisters, 20-year-old Julie Kerry and 19-year-old Robin Kerry. Both girls, along with their visiting male cousin, were thrown from an abandoned Mississippi River bridge. The cousin, Thomas Cummins, survived.

Clemons confessed to the killings, but later recanted. His lawyers say the confession was beaten out of him by police interrogators.

Jackson County Circuit Judge Michael Manners will oversee the hearing. He will then issue a report to the Missouri Supreme Court, which will decide whether Clemons should get a new trial. The Supreme Court could also decide to commute Clemons' death sentence.

Catholic organization asks KC Bishop to step down

A national Catholic organization is pushing for Bishop Robert Finn to resign after he became the highest-ranking U.S. church official convicted of a crime related to the child sexual abuse scandal.

The Kansas City Star reported that the National Survivor Advocates Coalition made the demand during a news conference Sunday in downtown Kansas City. Coalition chairwoman Kristine Ward says a criminally convicted bishop "cannot lead."

Finn leads the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. He was convicted earlier this month of one misdemeanor for failing to report child abuse suspicions.  The charges stem from a case in which church officials knew about child porn photos on a priest's computer but didn't turn him in until six months later.

A diocese spokesman says the bishop continues to focus on his work.

Missouri near top among states in use of tax credits for historic renovations

The National Park Service ranks Missouri near the top among states in use of state and federal tax credits to renovate historic buildings. Figures compiled by the agency show Missouri had the greatest number of completed projects that were certified for tax breaks during the 2011 fiscal year. The state's 99 historic renovation projects comprised nearly 14 percent of the entire total for the nation. Park Service figures show Missouri's historic renovation projects cost nearly $331 million in fiscal 2011 - second only behind $365 million of costs in Illinois.

The figures were presented this past week to the Tax Credit Review Commission that was revived by Gov. Jay Nixon. The governor wants the panel to recommend cost-saving cuts or changes to Missouri's 61 tax credit programs by Dec. 5.

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