Missouri prosecutor reviews cases involving questioned evidence room

Lady Justice with court gavel

LINN, Mo. (AP) — A central Missouri prosecutor said Wednesday she’s reviewing all cases her office has handled since 2013 involving items kept in a sheriff’s department evidence room that was found to be frequently improperly secured.

Osage County Prosecutor Amanda Grellner said the survey will dictate whether to dismiss or abandon cases. She estimated that could be “100 or better” cases largely involving drug matters; none are homicides. Attorneys involved in two or three cases already have requested that their clients’ guilty pleas or convictions be set aside, given questions about the evidence room’s integrity, Grellner said.

“I will have no choice but to dismiss or not pursue any cases where evidence was collected and held at any time in the evidence room” since Sheriff Michael Dixon took office in January 2013, Grellner said in a statement.

Dixon resigned in May, several months after he was accused of pointing a loaded gun at a person in a Hartsburg bar. He has pleaded not guilty to a weapons count.

Grellner said Dixon’s successor requested an investigation from the Missouri State Highway Patrol, which found that the evidence room often was left unattended with the door open and that items stored there frequently were improperly catalogued, if at all.

The prosecutor told The Associated Press on Wednesday that it’s unclear “when things went awry” with the evidence storage under Dixon’s watch.

“I can’t tell the court, nor can the highway patrol, at what juncture this became an issue. I wish I knew,” Grellner said. “The highway patrol has indicated they can’t verify the integrity of anything in that room, so I am reviewing every single case.”