Court of Appeals judge to preside over Cape Girardeau County felony theft case
Friday, January 7, 2011
A state Court of Appeals judge was assigned by the Missouri Supreme Court Tuesday to preside over a Cape Girardeau County felony theft case. The Supreme Court assigned Judge Gary D. Witt, from the Missouri Court of Appeals Western District, the state's largest intermediate appellate court, to the case of Joe T. Buerkle. Buerkle stole $325,000 from a client's trust fund for about two years. Buerkle was managing the trust of the late Donald Thomasson. Three Missouri Circuit Court judges have recused themselves from the case since charges were filed December 2009 by Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle. Stoddard County Circuit Court Judge Stephen Mitchell was the last to recuse himself and declined to comment about why in an interview Monday. Swingle filed a motion to have a special prosecutor appointed in the case Nov. 12 and Dunklin County Prosecuting Attorney Steven Sokoloff was put on the case. Sokoloff and Buerkle's attorney, Stephen Wilson, didn't return phone calls Thursday.