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Last of Medicaid protesters gets probation

Last of Medicaid protesters gets probation

October 27th, 2017 by Jeff Haldiman in Local News

A number of people filled the Missouri Senate Gallery in Jefferson City and performed an act of civil disobedience on May 6, 2014. They were with the Faith Community Rally in Jefferson City to protest the senate's rejection of the expanded Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare. These were the last four who refused to leave after the deliberative body was shut down for an hour and 23 people were arrested during the protest.

Photo by Julie Smith

The last of the 23 religious leaders from the Kansas City and St. Louis areas charged with misdemeanor trespassing in the state Senate's visitors' gallery in May 2014 was placed on one year of unsupervised probation during a sentencing hearing Thursday in Cole County Circuit Court.

Jessie Fisher, of Grandview, entered an Alford plea — a guilty plea where the defendant does not admit to the criminal act and asserts innocence. However, in entering an Alford plea, the defendant admits the evidence the prosecution has would likely persuade a judge or jury to find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

In May, six of the 23 — Emmett Baker Jr., Lloyd Fields, Riccordo Lucas, Susan McCann, Wallace Hartsfield and Ester Holzendor — who were among members of the group found guilty by a Cole County Jury in August 2016, were also placed on probation. Fisher was not included in the group who went to trial.

The 23 religious leaders had been charged after disrupting the Senate's debate on Medicaid expansion by singing and chanting in the gallery following a protest rally in the Capitol Rotunda.

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However, in early January, Jefferson City ministers William (W.T.) Edmonson and John Bennett were among 16 of the group pardoned by then-Gov. Jay Nixon after applying for the governor's pardons.

Besides Bennett and Edmonson, those religious leaders pardoned were Tony Caldwell, Chaunia Chandler, Dawn Hickman, Steve Houpe, Vernon Howard Jr., Tony Johnson, Karlous Kalu, David Kingsley, Sam Mann, Donna McDaniel, Kenneth Mosley, Tex Sample, James Tindall and Rodney Williams — mostly from Kansas City and St. Louis.

Only the six who were not pardoned could still be sentenced, along with Fisher.

During Thursday's proceedings, Judge Dan Green imposed only one condition to Fisher's probation: to not repeat the act.