New Prosecuting Attorney to Take Over Maryville Rape Case

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JEFFERSON CITY- Prosecuting attorney Robert Rice removed himself from the Maryville rape case Wednesday, meaning the presiding judge will appoint a new prosecuting attorney for the case.

KOMU 8 News spoke to Senator Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, Wednesday who said when this happens, the Attorney General usually becomes the new prosecuting attorney.

Attorney General Chris Koster does have the right to open an investigation if he is not appointed as the new prosecuting attorney, but said Tuesday he does not have the right to independently intervene in the decision of the Maryville rape case.

His statement sparked a backlash from some of Missouri's top political players, including House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, and Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder. Both lawmakers argued Koster did have the right to review the decision in the case.

Jones cited Missouri statute 27.060, which 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."

Schaefer said the statute cited by Jones applies only to "civil" cases and "equity at law" cases, which are actions related to money damages or judicial relief. Therefore, Schaefer said the statute does not give power to Koster to intervene in the criminal rape case.

However, Schaefer said the Attorney General does have the right under Missouri law to begin an investigation of the case under the sexual offense chapter and pornography chapter of Missouri statute, due to the alleged video taken of the rape.