22 clergy members found guilty of trespassing at state capitol

5 months 1 day 16 hours ago August 17, 2016 Aug 17, 2016 Wednesday, August 17 2016 Wednesday, August 17, 2016 5:55:00 PM CDT in News
By: Lauren Donovan, KOMU 8 Reporter
JEFFERSON CITY - A group of 22 clergy members received a split verdict from a Cole County jury Wednesday. The defendants were found guilty of trespassing but found innocent of obstructing Missouri Senate business.
 
The History
 
More than two years ago, on May 6, 2014, a group of predominately black, peaceful protestors filled the Senate balcony and began chanting in support of Medicaid expansion.
 
Missouri is one of 19 states that decided not to expand Medicaid. Advocates for expansion are predominantly Democrats, including Governor Jay Nixon. The majority of the opposition is Republican.
 
Typically, cases like this are processed right away said supporters of the defendants. There exist a few theories as why it took two years to get this case to trial. One area of speculation is that it is because almost all of the defendants are black. Out of the 22 protestors involved in the trial Wednesday, 17 are black.
 
A packed courtroom
 
During the trial, Cole County Circuit Court's biggest room was filled with some 40 or more spectators. The court added extra seats to fill demand. Many wore solidarity ribbons in support of the defendants.
 
On Tuesday, not one of the police officers who arrested the protestors could individually identify them. On Wednesday, one officer returned for cross examination. She was shown a video of the protest in an effort to identify who she arrested.
 
The video showed a Missouri Senate gallery filled with standing protestors. When the police escorted the protestors out, the balcony was almost entirely empty.The Senate suspended its session following the chants and singing of the protestors after the arrest.
 
The jury had to deliver a separate verdict for each defendant. The jury instructions lasted for around an hour, which is unusually long, according to Cole County Court officials. The defendants faced charges of obstructing a government function and trespassing.
 
Defense attorney: Protestors didn't know they were arrested
 
Cole County Prosecutor Mark Richardson told the jurors they should find the defendants guilty for resisting trespass and obstructing government. He said the will of the few should not interfere with the many. "When laws break down, where do you go to get laws passed," Richardson said.
 
Jay Barnes, attorney for the defense, said Richardson's commentary was un-American. He argued there was no evidence of communication made to the protestors by Capitol Police before their arrest. "Most didn't even think they were arrested," Barnes said.
 
Reverend Emmett Baker, one of the defendants, is 72 years old. If found guilty, Baker could serve up to 6 months behind bars. He said he did not get the notification of the charges against him until three months after the incident.
 
Baker and the other clergy members argued against Senator Kurt Schaefer's stance on opting out of Medicaid expansion. However, Schaefer has defended their right to free speech according to Baker.
 
"Even Senator Schaefer, he too felt we had the right to protest," Baker said.
 
The jury still has yet to decide the verdict of one of the 23 arrested, Jesse Fisher, who was absent from the majority of the trial. The jury is set to consider that case tomorrow morning. 
 
 

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA- Officers responded to a robbery Wednesday morning at First State Community Bank on Golden Bear Drive. An initial... More >>
32 minutes ago January 18, 2017 Jan 18, 2017 Wednesday, January 18 2017 Wednesday, January 18, 2017 1:33:00 PM CST in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — There's new life for a plan to have St. Louis taxpayers help fund a new downtown... More >>
45 minutes ago January 18, 2017 Jan 18, 2017 Wednesday, January 18 2017 Wednesday, January 18, 2017 1:20:06 PM CST in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A man whose conviction in a Missouri sports editor's death was overturned after spending nearly a... More >>
1 hour ago January 18, 2017 Jan 18, 2017 Wednesday, January 18 2017 Wednesday, January 18, 2017 1:03:08 PM CST in News
KANSAS CITY (AP) — A Kansas City man will serve three years in federal prison without parole for pointing a... More >>
2 hours ago January 18, 2017 Jan 18, 2017 Wednesday, January 18 2017 Wednesday, January 18, 2017 11:21:09 AM CST in News
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Police say a teenager and his mother are under arrest in the death of a Missouri... More >>
3 hours ago January 18, 2017 Jan 18, 2017 Wednesday, January 18 2017 Wednesday, January 18, 2017 10:49:00 AM CST in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis police are investigating the shooting death of a 15-year-old girl. Two masked... More >>
3 hours ago January 18, 2017 Jan 18, 2017 Wednesday, January 18 2017 Wednesday, January 18, 2017 10:07:00 AM CST in News
ROLLA (AP) — Authorities in south-central Missouri are investigating after a woman's body was found in a ditch along a... More >>
4 hours ago January 18, 2017 Jan 18, 2017 Wednesday, January 18 2017 Wednesday, January 18, 2017 9:57:00 AM CST in News
INDEPENDENCE (AP) — Authorities are investigating a homicide in the Kansas City suburb of Independence. KMBC-TV reports that... More >>
4 hours ago January 18, 2017 Jan 18, 2017 Wednesday, January 18 2017 Wednesday, January 18, 2017 9:54:00 AM CST in News
VANDALIA-The city of Vandalia is declaring a boil advisory until Thursday at 3 a.m. The city’s water pressure dropped... More >>
4 hours ago January 18, 2017 Jan 18, 2017 Wednesday, January 18 2017 Wednesday, January 18, 2017 9:43:00 AM CST in News
LIBERTY (AP) — The former campus president of a Kansas City trade school says he was fired for letting a... More >>
4 hours ago January 18, 2017 Jan 18, 2017 Wednesday, January 18 2017 Wednesday, January 18, 2017 9:31:00 AM CST in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Moody's Corporation has agreed to a settlement following a conduct investigation by the U.S. Dept. of Justice,... More >>
4 hours ago January 18, 2017 Jan 18, 2017 Wednesday, January 18 2017 Wednesday, January 18, 2017 9:11:00 AM CST in News
COLUMBIA – The advisory board for Columbia Water and Light is set to meet Wednesday morning to discuss its goals... More >>
6 hours ago January 18, 2017 Jan 18, 2017 Wednesday, January 18 2017 Wednesday, January 18, 2017 7:24:00 AM CST in News
EUGENE (AP) — Authorities say a 9-year-old boy has died after a farm tractor overturned in mid-Missouri. The Missouri... More >>
6 hours ago January 18, 2017 Jan 18, 2017 Wednesday, January 18 2017 Wednesday, January 18, 2017 7:07:00 AM CST in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — A contentious right-to-work bill to ban mandatory union fees is set to be debated by the... More >>
7 hours ago January 18, 2017 Jan 18, 2017 Wednesday, January 18 2017 Wednesday, January 18, 2017 6:40:00 AM CST in News
HOUSTON (AP) — The Latest on the hospitalization of former President George H.W. Bush (all times local): 5:20 a.m.... More >>
7 hours ago January 18, 2017 Jan 18, 2017 Wednesday, January 18 2017 Wednesday, January 18, 2017 6:14:00 AM CST in News
PHELPS COUNTY - Deputies were dispatched to the intersection of County Road 3000 and County Road 3220 Tuesday around noon... More >>
15 hours ago January 17, 2017 Jan 17, 2017 Tuesday, January 17 2017 Tuesday, January 17, 2017 10:44:00 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA - A bill sponsored by U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri) that hopes to cut government waste and increase accountability... More >>
15 hours ago January 17, 2017 Jan 17, 2017 Tuesday, January 17 2017 Tuesday, January 17, 2017 10:18:00 PM CST in News
JEFFERSON CITY – Governor Eric Greitens gave his first State of the State address Tuesday, just eight days after his... More >>
18 hours ago January 17, 2017 Jan 17, 2017 Tuesday, January 17 2017 Tuesday, January 17, 2017 7:33:00 PM CST in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 46°
3pm 51°
4pm 50°
5pm 47°
6pm 45°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

1:00p
Days of Our Lives
2:00p
The Dr. Oz Show
3:00p
Dr. Phil
1:00p
Maury
2:00p
Judge Alex
2:30p
Judge Alex

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
Blindspot
8:00p
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
9:00p
Chicago P.D.
7:00p
Arrow
8:00p
Frequency
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld