The suspect in a 2017 shooting that killed a Clinton police officer claims investigators either lost or destroyed evidence in the case.
Attorneys for Ian McCarthy are asking a Jackson County judge to either dismiss the death penalty case against him or remove the death penalty because of the losses. Those include the release and sale of the police cruiser Officer Gary Michael was in the night of his death, a destroyed video interview involving a co-defendant and notes a Missouri State Highway Patrol investigator took the night of the shooting.
Prosecutors suspect McCarthy of shooting and killing Michael in Aug. 2017 after the officer pulled him over near the Henry County Sheriff's Department. Arguments over the issue will take place on Wednesday at 9 a.m. in Jackson County.
Defense attorney Thomas Marshall said that prosecutors and police released Michael's patrol car on Sept. 21, 2017, back to the Clinton Police Department. Marshall said that the state never told defense attorneys about the release to allow them to inspect the car themselves.
Assistant attorney general Kevin Zoellner said that the Clinton Police Department later sold the vehicle because "he did not want a rolling memorial of this horrible crime in their small community." The highway patrol took photographs of Michael's police car, and all evidence, Zoellner said, was handed over to the defense team.
Marshall also said that law enforcement deleted a video recording of investigators interviewing William Noble, a co-defendant accused of hiding the weapon used to kill Michael. During the "proffer" interview in 2018, Marshall said, Noble requested to speak privately with his attorney. Law enforcement stopped an audio recording of the interview, but a privacy switch controlling the room's video camera within the Sheriff's Office "malfunctioned," according to Marshall, and recorded the conversation between Noble and his attorney.
Investigators reached out to Noble's attorney to decide what to do with the video recording. Marshall said Noble's attorney wanted the entirety of the interview destroyed.
"At no time did the participants to the group discussion, or the Assistant Attorney General, or Mr. Noble's attorney, discuss contacting Mr. McCarthy's counsel and inquire as to what they might want done with the recording," Marshall said.
Noble pleaded guilty to tampering with physical evidence in a prosecution, hindering prosecution and fraudulent purchase of a firearm in March. Judge Kevin Harrell sentenced him to three years of probation.
Marshall said a highway patrol digital forensic investigator lost some notes he took on getting convenience store surveillance video of the shooting.
Zoellner argued that McCarthy's lawyers could not prove that those items contained any exculpatory or potentially exculpatory evidence to them. The highway patrol made an audio recording of the Noble interview, and defense attorneys have the recording, he wrote. Zoellner also said that the officers acted in good faith.