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Report outlines details behind prosecutor's arrest

Report outlines details behind prosecutor's arrest

May 30th, 2018 by Bob Watson in Local News

Shayne Healea, Moniteau County Prosecutor, is shown in this photo posted Nov. 21, 2014.

The special master's report in Moniteau County Prosecutor Shayne Healea's criminal case finally has been released to the public after it had been closed for months while lawyers argued about its findings.

The report provides details of Healea's October 2014 arrest following an accident in a Columbia parking lot behind Addison's Restaurant — including his being placed in a holding cell after demanding time to speak with his attorney and, without his knowledge, having that conversation recorded by Columbia police.

Healea's attorney — Shane Farrow, of Jefferson City — had challenged its release because, he said, it included information that legally should be known only to Healea and his lawyer.

On May 1, the Missouri Supreme Court ordered the report be released — with the exception of Paragraph 10 — because, the court said, it "described the substance of questions Healea posed to his attorney."

Healea was accused of backing his pickup truck, with the tailgate down, into the restaurant's rear wall, knocking a portion of the wall into the restaurant and injuring several people.

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A Boone County grand jury charged Healea with leaving the scene of an accident where there was an injury or property damage and four counts of second-degree assault for operating a vehicle while intoxicated, resulting in injury.

His trial was moved to Shelby County on a change of venue, and the attorney general's office was appointed special prosecutor in the case after Boone County Prosecutor Dan Knight recused his office.

Farrow still is asking the court to remove the attorney general's office as the special prosecutor because they had access to the recording and didn't disclose its existence for a time.

Columbia police made the video and audio recording of Healea's 20-minute phone call — which, the special master reported, violated both state law and the department's own policies — and Farrow has argued that violation of Healea's constitutional right to speak privately with his attorney was enough to warrant blocking the whole trial.

Macon-Shelby County Circuit Judge Frederick "Rick" Tucker appointed Hadley Grimm, a retired circuit judge, as the special master to study the constitutional issues that Farrow raised.

"The video in the holding cell shows (Healea) seated on a bench, leaning forward, holding his cell phone," Grimm wrote in his five-page report. "The audio portion is not of good quality; portions of (Healea's) conversation were able to be understood, but other parts were not.

"Most of the attorney's conversation was unintelligible or completely inaudible on the tape."

But, Grimm added: "What I did not hear in the conversation between (Healea) and his attorney was any discussion concerning trial strategy, credibility of witnesses, which witnesses to call or not to call" or other issues that might be connected with presenting Healea's case to a court.

Grimm also found none of the key prosecution officials had listened to the recording, including the Columbia police arresting officer, an investigator for the attorney general's office and Assistant Attorney General Darrell Moore.

The special master wrote: "If the content of the attorney-client conversation involves matters of trial strategy, the knowledge of which could materially aid the prosecution to the detriment of the Defendant's right to a fair trial, the ultimate remedy should be the dismissal of all charges."

And that's what Farrow has requested.

But, Grimm determined, "A remedy less drastic than dismissal of all charges, such as an order excluding all evidence concerning the conversation, should be sufficient to eliminate any prejudice to (Healea's) fundamental right to a fair trial before an impartial jury."

No new trial date has been set in the case, and a pre-trial hearing last week was postponed and has not been rescheduled yet.

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