Scott County sheriff requests dismissal of grand jury indictment against him

Saturday, March 10, 2007

BENTON, Mo. -- Former Scott County Sheriff Bill Ferrell has requested the court dismiss the grand jury's indictment against him.

Ferrell's attorney Jim Robison filed the motion Wednesday in Scott County Circuit Court. The motion called for the dismissal, stating Scott County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Boyd had a conflict of interest in the case.

Pointing out that Boyd filed a request to withdraw as prosecutor in the case, citing a conflict of interest due to his relationship with the county officers endorsed as witnesses, the motion alleges "if a conflict of interest existed on the date when the indictment was filed then a conflict of interest existed as the prosecuting attorney was representing the state before the grand jury."

Ferrell's attorney noted that as prosecutor, Boyd decided who to call as witnesses and what evidence to bring to the grand jury's attention. Also he alleges Boyd's failure to admit his conflict of interest to the grand jury "amounts to prosecutorial misconduct."

Robison also filed a nine-page memorandum saying the prosecutor's conclusion that a conflict of interest was present in the case was "well founded," and that the conflict should have been disclosed at the beginning of the grand jury proceedings.

"The problem is that he waited until the damage was done before reacting to the existence of his conflict of interest," he stated in the memorandum.

Robison's filing also calls into question the appointment of St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch as special prosecutor, stating McCulloch was "hand-picked" by Boyd, presenting another conflict of interest. The filing also uses case law to build an argument that no clear conflict of interest need even exist to dismiss the indictment, but merely the appearance of a conflict of interest.

The indictment, handed down by a Scott County grand jury Feb. 23, accused Ferrell of stealing between "$500 and $20,000 from the sheriff's DARE fund and Crime Prevention Fund" between Dec. 1, 2004, and Feb. 26, 2005. The charges stem from an investigation by the Missouri State Highway Patrol and a state audit of the county's finances.

St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch was appointed special prosecutor in the case after Boyd stepped aside due to the conflict of interest.

Southeast Missourian writer Matt Sanders contributed to this report.

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