MSHP board holds pre trial hearing in case of demoted trooper

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JEFFERSON CITY - Representatives for the Missouri State Highway Patrol and a member of the patrol met at MSHP headquarters Friday morning for a public pre-trial hearing.

The hearing involved Sgt. Randy Henry against the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Henry's attorney, Chet Pleban, said the highway patrol demoted Sgt. Henry after he criticized its handling of the 2014 drowning death of Brandon Ellingson.

On top of that, there is also a complaint against Sgt. Henry from Amanda Grellner. Grellner was the original prosecuting attorney in the case against the Missouri State Highway Patrol following Ellingson's death.

Grellner filed a complaint against Henry suggested there was a conflict of interest since MSHP had exonerated her son in a rape case. Grellner eventually stepped down as the prosecutor in the Ellingson case.

Despite it being a public hearing, MSHP would not allow KOMU 8 News to record any video or audio during Friday morning's proceedings.

Both sides debated three separate motions in the 90-minute hearing. They involved the proposed removal of the attorney general's office from the case, not allowing a deposition from Grellner and having the presiding captain in the case, recusing himself from the board.

The board agreed to take all three motions into consideration before next month's hearing.

After pre-trial hearing wrapped up, KOMU 8 News spoke to Sgt. Henry's attorney. Pleban told us he sees too many conflicts of interest in the case and wants his client to get a fair shake.

"We can't get it when the attorney general represents everybody other than Randy Henry," Pleban said. "We can't get it when you pick a captain whose boss is named in the Ellingson lawsuit both individually and ... in her official capacities."

The attorney general's office is representing the Missouri State Highway Patrol in the case. In the hearing, Attorney Ben Cox argued there is no conflict of interest and that Grellner's deposition is important moving forward.

KOMU 8 News spoke to Cox after the hearing. Cox said he could not comment. He referred us to the attorney general's press secretary who also refused to provide any further comment.

The official disciplinary hearing is scheduled to begin Sept. 28. The proceedings will be held at the headquarters for the Missouri State Highway Patrol.