Alesia Rivera, 47, is serving a seven-year sentence after pleading guilty to a murder-for-hire plot. She says she's innocent.
After serving more than two years in prison for a crime she claims police fabricated, Alesia Rivera's last chance for a reprieve was with the Missouri Supreme Court. This week, that chance was finally snuffed out. The state's highest court declined to take her case.
on Rivera's case, the subject of an RFT cover story in April, is anything but straightforward: In October 2013, the St. Joseph woman pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder in the first degree. A judge sentenced her to seven years in prison.
But the crime she copped to was more complicated than a simple money-for-murder transaction. The alleged plot was actually engineered by her father, Doyle Brant, a millionaire businessman who at the time was awaiting trial on a litany of felony charges for statutory rape and sodomy.
Brant had been accused of carrying on a sexual relationship with a fourteen-year-old girl back in 2006. In 2012, his victim, then 21, was the key witness in the state's case against Brant.
What happened next was, in a word, messy: An inmate-turned-snitch in Brant's cell block told detectives that the disgraced businessman was plotting to have the 21-year-old victim killed. The detectives were convinced that Brant had also enlisted his daughter in the murder scheme, though evidence was scant. At their directive, the snitch would ultimately visit Rivera twice at her home, secretly recording the middle-aged woman's conversation.
Those recordings became damning evidence at trial, particularly a moment in which Rivera seemingly agreed to help get money to the hitman that her father had hired. No money ever actually changed hands, however.
In the RFT feature story published last month
, Rivera claimed that she had known nothing about the murder plot and that the informant had basically trapped her into making incriminating statements.
Still, she pleaded guilty in October 2013. In later appeals, she claimed that her trial lawyer pressured her into taking the plea despite her protests of innocence.
"We wanted Missouri Supreme Court to review the case because of significant legal issues raised in the case," says Sam Henderson, a St. Louis-based attorney with Arch City Defenders who has represented Rivera since 2014.
"Ms. Rivera and her family are disappointed by the court's decision. We will continue our effort in pursuing justice and the release of Ms. Rivera."
See also: Alesia Rivera Would Have Done Anything for Her Father. But Murder?
Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter at @D_ Towski. E-mail the author at Danny.Wicentowski@RiverfrontTimes.com