- Associated Press - Friday, February 10, 2017

SHELBYVILLE, Mo. (AP) - A judge said Columbia police violated the U.S. Constitution and state law by recording a conversation between Moniteau County Prosecutor Shayne Healea and his attorney while Healea was in custody in 2014 after backing his pickup truck into a restaurant.

Circuit Judge Frederick Tucker ruled Thursday that the recording would be suppressed in Healea’s trial, but the judge denied a request by Healea’s attorney to dismiss the case, The Columbia Daily Tribune reported (https://bit.ly/2lwNAyH ).

Healea is accused of crashing his truck into a Columbia restaurant in October 2014, injuring four people. Police said he drove off and refused a breath-alcohol test when he was found. A few weeks after the crash, a grand jury indicted Healea on felony leaving the scene of an accident and four counts of second-degree assault.

A special master’s report, written by Judge Hadley Grimm, recommended that the case not be dismissed because of the recording. Tucker agreed with that recommendation.

Tucker said no trial strategy could be heard on the recording, and the attorney general’s office - which is prosecuting the case - did not use the recording when deciding whether to file charges. The judge said the recording revealed a conversation that suspects accused of driving while intoxicated often have with their attorneys, including whether to submit to a breath test.

The Columbia Police Department violated a state law that requires police facilities to provide a secure place for defendants and their attorneys to meet, Tucker said.

Thursday’s hearing was on the special master’s report and a motion from Healea’s attorney to dismiss the case because of the recording.

Assistant Attorney General Darrell Moore agreed that the state cannot use any evidence about Healea’s decision to refuse a breath test.

Healea’s defense attorney, Shane Farrow, argued that evidence from a search warrant obtained to draw Healea’s blood should be tossed and the case should be dismissed. Previous court documents said that Healea’s blood-alcohol content was 0.117 about three hours after the crash, above the legal driving limit of 0.08.

Tucker set a June 5 trial date, along with a March 2 hearing on a motion to throw out the blood evidence and other pretrial matters.


Information from: Columbia Daily Tribune, https://www.columbiatribune.com

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