RACINE — A man who was once accused of — but never convicted of — homicide allegedly swore at a deputy, brought up his previous murder charge and made racially based comments after being pulled over for suspected drunken driving Friday evening, according to the Racine County Sheriff’s Office.
John Earl Clay, 48, of the 1900 block of Racine Street, was charged on Monday with operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated (a felony fourth offense), operating a motor vehicle while revoked, and four counts of misdemeanor bail jumping.
In 2015, Clay was charged in connection to a cold-case homicide for the killing of Andre McKinstry, a 24-year-old man who was shot and killed inside the former Steve and B’s tavern, 1224 16th St., on Aug. 14, 1994. Charges were dropped in July 2016.
Clay was also out on bond for two sets of charges filed in the last two months. In November, he was charged with disorderly conduct in Racine. In October, he was charged with operating a motor vehicle while revoked in October 2018. Both of those cases remain open.
Clay is not to be confused with John Clay, the football standout at Park High School who went on to play for the Wisconsin Badgers and Pittsburgh Steelers.
According to a criminal complaint:
After being pulled over on Friday, Clay reportedly expressed surprise when he was told his license was revoked, despite it having been revoked indefinitely in September 2004. He then searched through his glove compartment in what a deputy described as “a very clumsy manner,” before turning back to the deputy and again asking why he’d been pulled over, at which point the deputy reminded him it was for his revoked license.
Clay later reportedly failed four field sobriety tests and was taken to the hospital for a blood draw, after he told law enforcement he had “a few beers about 4 hours ago.”
While filling out the paperwork for a warrant to request a blood draw, Clay reportedly swore at the deputy, called him a “cracker” and “several other non-understandable things,” and spit in the direction of the deputy, according to the complaint. Clay also allegedly made lewd comments to the deputy.
Clay also referenced the dropped homicide charge, saying “Yeah that’s me (expletive), a murderer, (expletive), that’s who I am,”according to the deputy.
Clay’s record and hearing date
Clay’s criminal history dates back to 1991, when he was convicted of robbery in Cook County, Ill. In Racine, he has been convicted of possession with intent to deliver cocaine in 1998, battery in 2002 and 2018, disorderly conduct in 2004 and 2018, criminal damage to property in 2004, and violating a harassment restraining order in 2009. His three prior operating while intoxicated offenses occurred in Kenosha in 2004, in Tennessee in February 2011 and in Kentucky in June 2011.
Clay is scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary hearing at 8:30 a.m. Dec. 26 at the Racine County Law Enforcement Center, 717 Wisconsin Ave. He remained in custody at the County Jail as of Monday night.