KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri county prosecutors are working together to improve their crime-fighting efforts.
The Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys has created committees to discuss best practices, with a focus on getting convictions while protecting the rights of criminal defendants.
The Kansas City Star reports the committees will study such issues as handling forensic evidence, eyewitness testimony and the use of jailhouse informants. Other subcommittees will consider handling cases involving children, the elderly, drunken driving and sex crimes.
Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd says the effort was prompted in part by two recent cases — the release of 29-year-old Ryan Ferguson after he was jailed for more than a decade for a Columbia homicide, and the dismissal of sexual assault allegations in a Maryville case that caused a public uproar.
CLEVELAND (AP) - A Cleveland man accused of holding three women captive in his home for about a decade has pleaded guilty in a deal to avoid the death penalty.
Ariel Castro entered the plea Friday. In exchange, prosecutors are recommending the 53-year-old Castro be sentenced to life without parole plus 1,000 years.
Castro says a pornography addiction and "sexual problem" have taken a toll on his mind. He also says he was sexually abused as a child.
He had been charged in a 977-count indictment. He is pleading guilty to 937 counts.
He had been scheduled for trial Aug. 5 on allegations that include repeatedly restraining the women and punching and starving one woman until she had a miscarriage.
The women disappeared separately between 2002 and 2004. They escaped from Castro's house May 6.
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - Missouri prosecutors advising police on undercover investigations now have greater legal protection that their conduct won't violate ethical rules.
A recent change to the Missouri Supreme Court's Rules of Professional Conduct explicitly allows government lawyers to collaborate on undercover operations without risking sanction for professional misconduct.
The amendment further codifies a tactic that former Cape Girardeau County prosecutor Morley Swingle calls "the oldest trick in the criminal investigator's book" - lying to a suspect to help solve a case. Swingle is now an assistant U.S. attorney.
Missouri is among 10 states to make similar revisions to its conduct codes for lawyers. Many came in response to a Colorado case in which a prosecutor's law license was suspended after he posed as a public defender to elicit a murder confession.