SHELBYVILLE, Mo. - A Moniteau County elected official pleaded guilty Tuesday to four misdemeanor charges in connection with an October 2014 crash into a building that left four people injured.
Moniteau County prosecutor Shayne Healea entered the plea in a Shelby County courtroom on a change of venue to three counts of Class 1 misdemeanor assault in third degree and one class B misdemeanor of driving while intoxicating.
Police and prosecutors alleged Healea was driving drunk when he backed his truck into a glass block wall at Addison’s restaurant in downtown Columbia during the University of Missouri’s Homecoming weekend. He was charged with leaving the scene of an accident and four counts of felony assault.
In exchange for his plea, Healea will be placed on probation for two years. He will not serve as prosecutor during probation and must abide law, according to the judge. Healea will sign a letter of resignation Tuesday at 5 p.m. and take his name off the ballot to run for prosecutor.
His jury trial was scheduled to start today.
Witnesses took the stand during the hearing, with Derek Heckemeyer scolding Healea.
"You're lucky you're just losing your job," Heckemeyer said. "It could be a lot worse."
Stephanie Grandestaff said she was terrified when the crash happened as she and her husband ate at Addison's.
"Things just kept falling and hitting me," Grandestaff said. "I started thinking I might die. People were holding dinner napkins to my head and arm because they were bleeding."
She had a concussion and had staples put in her head, Grandestaff said. She required plastic surgery on her arm, physical therapy and mental health counseling, Grandestaff said.
Healea said after his arrest that he did not realize he had hit the building until someone flagged him down. At that point, he drove back to the restaurant and told police he was the driver who hit the window, Healea said at the time.
Authorities said blood tests showed Healea’s blood alcohol content was above the legal driving limit.
The case has been caught up in legal battles for years. Among other issues Healea had brought up was the recording of a phone call with his attorney in a Columbia Police Department holding cell. A legal expert appointed to review the matter determined that police violated Healea’s civil rights, but the violation did not warrant dismissing the charges.
Healea’s attorney, Shane Farrow, asked a judge last month to delay Healea’s trial, saying he didn’t have all the information held by the Columbia Police Department about the recorded phone call. The judge decided to proceed with the case.
Healea ran unopposed for a third term in the August Republican primary. He was elected to his second term days after his arrest.
He submitted paperwork Tuesday to have his name removed from the November ballot.
Gov. Mike Parson will be responsible for appointing a replacement until the position can be filled in an election, though the time frame for doing so wasn't clear Tuesday afternoon. Several Moniteau County officials declined to discuss the process.