- Associated Press - Friday, November 6, 2015

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri prosecutor has filed notice that he’ll ask a state appeals court to overturn a judge’s decision to release a man accused of sexually assaulting an infant.

Cole County Circuit Judge Patricia Joyce granted a defense motion to release 27-year-old Aaron Michael Fisher on Oct. 23, after his public defender argued that Fisher’s constitutional right to a speedy trial had been violated.

Fisher was charged in October 2009 with two counts of forcible sodomy of the 5-month-old girl. But after numerous delays and his decision to withdraw a guilty plea, his trial was scheduled to begin this month.

Miller County Prosecutor Ben Winfrey has asked a state appeals court to overturn Joyce’s ruling. He told The Kansas City Star (https://bit.ly/1WExkqO ) he also will ask Attorney General Chris Koster’s office for help getting Fisher back into custody to face trial.

“What happened here infuriated this community, and I’m going to do everything I can to bring justice to this victim and her family,” Winfrey said.

Fisher initially asked for a speedy trial and a trial date was set for early 2011. But before the date arrived, his attorney at the time asked for a continuance. The judge then handling the case told Fisher that request waived his earlier request for a speedy trial.

A new trial date was set, but Fisher pleaded guilty on July 28, 2014. Sentencing was set for that November, but Fisher later withdrew his guilty plea, saying he didn’t remember what happened.

He was scheduled to stand trial Nov. 23, 2015, until the judge agreed to release him last month.

In dismissing the case, Joyce said in the ruling that Fisher’s right to a speedy and fair trial had been violated. Joyce also criticized for prosecutors for failing to bring the case to trial. The judge’s ruling said there had been “at least six trial settings over a 5-year period” and prosecutors failed “to bring any type of justice to the county of Miller.”

Joyce’s secretary said Friday that judicial ethics prohibited the judge from commenting on any of her cases.

Winfrey said court delays in Miller County are not uncommon, in part because the county is part of a five-county circuit with only two judges.

“What might take three months in Jackson County could take 12 months down here,” Winfrey said.

Jason Emmons, Fisher’s public defender, didn’t immediately return a phone message seeking comment on Friday.

Missouri state Rep. Rocky Miller, whose district includes the area where the alleged crime occurred, also said he would push for an investigation into Joyce.

“She wasn’t following the law,” Miller said. “She was making her own law.”

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Information from: The Kansas City Star, https://www.kcstar.com


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