Suspended sheriff has two charges dismissed

Wednesday, June 28, 2017
Suspended Mississippi County Sheriff Cory Hutcheson talks to supporters after his preliminary hearing Tuesday afternoon in Charleston, Mo. Spencer Edwards, Staff

CHARLESTON - Two charges were dismissed during a preliminary hearing Tuesday for Cory Hutcheson, however the suspended Mississippi County sheriff will stand trial on a robbery charge.

A standing-room-only crowd heard testimony from several witnesses for over three hours Tuesday in the hearing of Hutcheson who was facing 18 felony charges.

In the first case, Cape Girardeau County Circuit Judge Gary Kamp dismissed the assault charge as well as a charge of making a false report but bound Hutcheson over to the Mississippi County Circuit Court on a charge of robbery.

No ruling was made on a second case which contains 15 charges, including seven class C felony charges of forgery, seven class A misdemeanor charges of tampering with computer data and a misdemeanor charge of misconduct by a notary.

In the first hearing, Bonnie Woods, an East Prairie beautician who works at her sister Joyce's Salon, was first on the witness stand. Woods testified that Kasey Hall, a relative of Hutcheson, had worked as a beautician at the same salon. Hall had planned to open her own salon, and was leaving the employ of Joyce's Salon. Woods testified that Joyce's Salon owed Hall some money for wages and that she was holding Hall's check. Woods said that the check was going to be given to Hall when she returned some pages from her appointment book. Woods said the appointment book pages were necessary for preparation of tax documents.

Woods testified that Hutcheson came to Joyce's Salon on March 24 to pick up the check and deliver the appointment book pages. According to Woods, she asked Hutcheson, "Do you have something for me?" Woods said that Hutcheson replied, "Yes, do you have something for me?"

While making the exchange, Woods said the sheriff told her he was arresting her for an assault on Kasey Hall on March 22. On cross examination, Woods denied having had an altercation with Hall. Hutcheson handcuffed one of her hands and attempted to cuff her other hand when Woods resisted. Woods said the handcuff was removed when Hutcheson noticed blood on Woods' wrist. Woods said that Hutcheson took the check and left the appointment book pages, then departed.

Woods testified that she went to the hospital in Sikeston that day and was transferred to Saint Francis Medical Center. Woods said she was released three days later, and was told that she had suffered a mild heart attack.

Hutcheson delivered the check to Hall for endorsement and then deposited the check in Hall's account.

The charge of assault on Bonnie Woods was dismissed by Kamp as was the charge of making a false report, but the judge bound over the charge of robbery of the payroll check. Arraignment on the robbery charge is set for July 11 in the Mississippi County Circuit Court.

In the second hearing, FBI Agent Darren Swizler testified that the Missouri State Highway Patrol had complained about unlawful cell phone pings.

Swizler said that pinging a cell phone is a way of determining the longitude and latitude of a cell phone. Locating a cell phone is a service provided by Securus Technologies, the company who provides phone service for inmates in prisons around the country including Mississippi County, according to Lance McCaskey.

McCaskey is a Securus employee from Dallas, Texas, who also testified at the preliminary hearing. He presented a log of the numbers that were pinged from Mississippi County Jail while Keith Moore was sheriff and Cory Hutcheson was a jailer.

In order to ping a phone, a document is required to be uploaded to Securus showing that the request is lawful.

The prosecution called seven witnesses whose phones were pinged including Mississippi County Circuit Court Judge David Dolan, Moore and five members of the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Dolan testified that he was in court on the date his phone was pinged.

The witnesses denied giving consent for the phone pings and each denied having some exigent circumstance which could have justified the pings.

David Patton, Scott Stoelting, William Cooper, Jay Holcomb and Jeffery Johnson, all members of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, also testified that they had not given consent for the phone pings.

Johnson testified that he had never requested a phone ping from Hutcheson.

However, on cross examination, Hutcheson's attorney Scott Rosenbloom, had Johnson read a text message to Hutcheson from a number purportedly belonging to Johnson which read, "Will you ping that number for me again?"

Hutcheson said after court that he looks forward to presenting his side of the events to a jury.

A decision from Kamp as to whether the forgery charges are bound over to the circuit court is expected by Thursday according to the Mississippi County Circuit Court Clerk.

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