ST. LOUIS, Mo. - A series of decisions by his trial judge led the Moniteau County prosecutor to appeal to a higher court.
Shayne Healea, the elected prosecutor of Moniteau County, claims that 41st Circuit Court Judge Rick Tucker exceeded his authority on several occasions the last several months in Healea's criminal case. A petition filed in the Eastern District Court of Appeals challenges those choices, and asks the higher court to reverse many of them.
Columbia police arrested Healea in October 2014 when he backed his truck into Addison's restaurant downtown. Officers believe he was drunk at the time due to bloodshot, watery eyes and his admission that he drank that day. Healea claimed that CPD videotaped and recorded his phone call with his attorney while in a holding cell, burnt that recording onto a disk and gave it to the prosecuting attorney. Healea claimed that violated his right to attorney-client privilege.
Healea and his attorney, Shane Farrow, asked for a special judge to consider that issue, and asked he dismiss charges because of it. While the report indicated a Sixth Amendment violation occurred, according to court filings, Judge Tucker decided it didn't require the case be dismissed altogether. At a March hearing, Tucker said he would unseal the special judge's report.
Farrow argued that making the report public "would only serve to further prejudice [Healea]'s 6th Amendment right to counsel and a fair trial." The petition asks the court of appeals to stop Tucker from releasing the report on what happened in the holding cell.
The Attorney General's Office, who is handling the prosecution of the case, has said it was not aware of the recording until Farrow brought it up in December. Prosecutors have relied on Healea's blood alcohol content, determined through blood evidence taken the night of his arrest.
Farrow is also asking the court of appeals reverse decisions Tucker made to allow prosecutors to use blood evidence at trial. CPD failed to properly fill out the search warrant for Healea's blood, despite an officer testifying he believed he had done so correctly. Tucker said the violation did not rise to a level that the evidence had to be left out of trial.
The petition also calls for the removal of the Attorney General's Office as prosecutor of the case and a "purge" of CPD's servers of Healea's phone call to his attorney. Farrow argued that none of these arguments would help Healea much if he was convicted of the five felonies he faces.
"[Healea]'s remedy through post-conviction appeal is inadequate as [Healea] is an elected official and is required by Missouri law to vacate his office upon a felony conviction. To have that conviction overturned after the fact will not restore [Healea] to his duly elected position and will cause [Healea] to suffer considerable hardship," Farrow wrote.