Ex-Suspect's Lawyer, Mo. Lawmakers Respond to Maryville Furor

Posted: Oct 15, 2013 7:41 PM by Blair Miller, KOMU 8 Digital Producer
Updated: Oct 15, 2013 9:43 PM

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MARYVILLE - Regional and national attention has been intensely focused over the past two days on a 2012 sexual assault case in Maryville after reports in The Kansas City Star led the hacker group Anonymous to target the case in an official statement from one of its members.

"We demand an immediate investigation into the handling by local authorities of Daisy's case. Why was a suspect, who confessed to a crime, released with no charges? How was video and medical evidence not enough to put one of these football players inside a court room?" read the statement from the group.

The case involves a then-14-year-old girl, Daisy Coleman, and her 13-year-old friend, who were allegedly sexually assaulted in January 2012 by then-17-year-olds Matthew Bradley Barnett and his alleged accomplice Jordan Zech.

Barnett is the grandson of former state Representative Rex Barnett.

In March 2012, charges were dropped against Zech, and Barnett faced a lesser charge of misdemeanor child endangerment, after Nodaway Co. Prosecutor Robert Rice cited a "lack of evidence" in the case.

The child endangerment charges were also later dropped.

A spokeswoman for Attorney General Chris Koster said Tuesday that Koster's office lacks the authority to review a local prosecutor's decisions in particular cases.

However, that didn't stop some of Koster's big-time political opponents in the state from pressuring Koster to act on the case.

Lt. Governor Peter Kinder released a statement Tuesday, calling "on Attorney General Koster and Prosecutor Rice to join me in asking that the Circuit Court convene a grand jury to review all the evidence, hear all witnesses, and issue a decision as to whether charges should ensue."

Kinder also urged other officials to speak up in a call for a grand jury to determine whether criminal charges should be filed.

House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, also issued a statement, saying "(w)hile our attorney general has already stated he has no authority to intervene in this matter, I firmly believe he is empowered to do so under state statute 27.060. I am calling on him to utilize his authority to intervene in this matter so that we can be confident that justice is served."

The statute referenced by Jones states that "(t)he attorney general shall institute, in the name and on the behalf of the state, all civil suits and other proceedings at law or in equity requisite or necessary to protect the rights and interests of the state, and enforce any and all rights, interests or claims against any and all persons, firms or corporations in whatever court or jurisdiction such action may be necessary; and he may also appear and interplead, answer or defend, in any proceeding or tribunal in which the state's interests are involved."

Barnett's lawyer, Bob Sundell, issued a statement to the media claiming the accusers and their family members refused to answer any questions posed by defense counsel regarding Barnett's sexual assault charge, and that when questioned regarding the lesser child endangerment charge, testified with "numerous inconsistencies and changes to previous statements", leading to those charges being dropped as well.

Per The Associated Press, Coleman's mother has refuted those claims that she and her daughter were uncooperative.

The town of Maryville says it is under a heightened state of security after the national attention and numerous threats.

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