Appeals court upholds Moad case dismissal

Barring a successful appeal to the Missouri Supreme Court — or a rehearing by the appeals court in Kansas City — Jeffrey Luke Moad, now 27, Eugene, never can be tried again for manslaughter in the Feb. 14, 2006, death of Laura “Katie” Winfrey, 18, New Bloomfield.

His only trial in the case ended with a hung jury in February 2008.

A three-judge appeals court panel ruled Tuesday that Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem ruled correctly last September, that prosecutors had closed the door to a new trial when they dismissed the original indictment against Moad on Aug. 30, 2010, just 10 days before the scheduled Sept. 8 retrial.

A new Cole County grand jury issued a new indictment on Sept. 28, 2010, again charging Moad with involuntary manslaughter.

But the appeals court agreed with Moad’s attorney, Doug Hennon of Jefferson City, that state law clearly says the dismissal is “with prejudice” — meaning a case can’t be filed again — unless the defendant agrees to the dismissal so that a new charge can be filed.

“It is undisputed that Moad did not consent to having the case dismissed ‘without prejudice,’” Judge Mark D. Pfeiffer wrote in the appeals court’s four-page opinion.

The case began when Moad, then 18, and Winfrey were southbound on Loesch Road, about two miles south of Zion Road. Winfrey’s 1983 Nissan swerved to the left, struck a ditch, went through a fence and overturned.

According to court records, when Highway Patrol trooper Bryan Salmons reached the accident, he found Moad outside the vehicle with Winfrey trapped underneath. In his exchange with Salmons, Moad said he was a passenger in the vehicle.

Salmons directed other officers to collect evidence that would show who was driving, Pfeiffer wrote in the 2009 appeals court case.

Based on blood and tissue evidence, the positions and operability of the vehicle seats, Moad’s head injury and apparent intoxication, Moad was arrested that night as the driver of the car.

Charges eventually were filed and a grand jury indicted Moad on an involuntary manslaughter charge.

Hennon challenged the state’s use of evidence from the car because, after the patrol finished its examination of the vehicle the day after the accident, the Nissan was released to Winfrey’s family “within a day or so,” leaving the defense with no “opportunity to perform an independent examination.”

Circuit Judge Patricia Joyce rejected Hennon’s motion, and the evidence was used in the three-day 2008 trial that ended with the hung jury.

As both sides worked toward a second trial, Hennon again asked Joyce to exclude the evidence from the car and she agreed, after the patrol could not produce a written policy showing why the car had been returned to Winfrey’s family.

After prosecutors dismissed the first charge and the grand jury issued a new indictment, the new case was assigned to Beetem.

Last August, Hennon asked him to dismiss the case as a violation of Moad’s protections against double jeopardy.

Beetem agreed on Sept. 14, and Richardson appealed five days later.

This week’s ruling cited Beetem’s order last September, that the “Prosecutor unabashedly admits that he is ‘judge-shopping’” after unfavorable pre-trial rulings by Joyce.

Richardson declined to comment on the court’s decision and told the News Tribune Tuesday it’s too soon to say how his office will respond.

Hennon said: “I am happy for my client and pleased to see the Court of Appeals reached what I believe to be the correct and just result.”

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