- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 28, 2017

CHARLESTON, Mo. (AP) - A judge has dismissed an assault charge against a southeastern Missouri sheriff being investigated in an inmate’s death, but ordered a trial for him on a robbery charge.

The assault charge stemmed from allegations that Mississippi County Sheriff Cory Hutcheson handcuffed an elderly woman so roughly that she suffered a heart attack. Associated Judge Gary Kamp’s ruling to dismiss it came after back-to-back preliminary hearings held in the cases on Tuesday, the Southeast Missourian of Cape Girardeau (https://bit.ly/2s1FGks ) reported.

The robbery case alleges Hutcheson stole his sister-in-law’s paycheck. Kamp also took under advisement 15 other charges related to allegations that the sheriff illegally “pinged” the cellphones of a judge and several law enforcement officers in violation of state law.

Although Hutcheson’s sheriff’s license was suspended after his arrest on the charges in April, prosecutors allege he was involved in a May 5 altercation at the county jail leading to the death of 28-year-old inmate Tory Sanders, of Nashville, Tennessee. Hutcheson subsequently was removed from his position as sheriff while the case proceeds.

Prosecutors had alleged that Hutcheson assaulted 77-year-old Bonnie Woods in March when he came to the beauty shop where she worked to pick up a paycheck for his sister-in-law. Hutcheson’s sister-in-law was opening a competing shop and Woods had been told not to hand over the former employee’s check until she returned her client-appointment sheets, according to testimony from the preliminary hearing in that case. Woods said the sheriff told her that he was arresting her because he alleged she had assaulted the sister-in-law at the shop two days earlier.

Woods said after he handcuffed her left hand, she resisted his efforts to handcuff her right hand. She testified Hutcheson subsequently removed the handcuff, grabbed the check out of her hand and gave her the requested paperwork showing the sister-in-law’s clients. Woods said her left hand bled and that she was hospitalized for three days after suffering a mild heart attack.

A separate hearing Tuesday focused on allegations that a computer program at the sheriff’s department was used to ping the cellphones of other law enforcement officers to determine their locations. FBI special agent Dan Zwiesler testified that Hutcheson said he had acted on the orders of former Mississippi County Sheriff Keith Moore. But Moore, who supervised Hutcheson before losing the sheriff’s race to him in 2016, said he never gave Hutcheson permission to ping his phone or anyone else’s.

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Information from: Southeast Missourian, https://www.semissourian.com

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