Prosecutor's caseload is heavy in '05

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The case load handled by the Barry County Prosecutor's Office remained heavy in 2005. According to recently released figures, Barry County Prosecutor Johnnie Cox's office filed 1,594 felony and misdemeanor cases and issued 1,550 traffic, water and conservation tickets.

"It just seems like we never have any lulls or slowing down," said Cox. "It's non-stop with charges coming in and cases being filed."

From now until Nov. 8, Cox said his office has 20 cases set for jury trial. In addition, his office has 15 cases set for bench trial in Barry County Associate Court from now until March 23 and 37 cases set for prelimi-nary hearing through April 4.

Of the total charges filed for 2005, 604 were felonies and 990 were misdemeanors, as compared to 673 felony and 1,043 misdemeanor cases filed in 2005. The number of total tickets issued by the prosecutor's office increased slightly from 1,300 in 2004 to 1,550 in 2005.

The cases filed by the prosecutor in 2005 included 201 related to the abuse of controlled substances, including 162 felonies and 39 misdemeanors. In 2004, 236 charges related to controlled substances were filed, including 171 felonies and 65 misdemeanors.

Cox said the slight decrease in drug-related crime could be attributed to fewer meth labs being seized in Barry County.

"The meth lab, precursor chemical charges did seem to go down this past year," said Cox. "We didn't do as many search warrants related to meth labs.

"I think that has a lot to do with the new pseudoephedrine law (restricting the sale of over-the-counter drugs containing ephedrine used in the manufacture of metham-phetamine)," Cox added. "It's not a lack of officers working cases. The new law really seems to have worked. Now we seem to have more charges involving meth coming from Mexico."

Burglaries, weapons-related charges, robberies, forgeries and kidnapping-related charges were the only categories where considerably more charges were filed in 2005.

This past year, 52 charges of burglary were filed com-pared to 40 in 2004. The prosecutor's office filed 23 weapons re-lated charges in 2005 com-pared to 11 in 2004.

The number of robbery charges in-creased from one in 2004 to four in 2005, and the number of forgeries rose from 40 in 2004 to 47 in 2005. Kidnapping-related charges also climbed from one in 2004 to nine in 2005.

In 2005, the prosecutor's office filed 21 sex offense cases as compared to 26 in 2004.

Specific charges filed this past year included: first degree child molestation, one case; second degree child molestation, one case; forcible rape, one case; first degree sexual misconduct, two cases; first degree statutory rape, two cases; second degree statutory rape, five cases; first degree statutory sodomy, six cases; and second degree statutory sodomy, one case.

Most other categories of criminal charges filed were down in 2004 over 2003. Less than half as many weapons charges were filed this year as last year. In 2004, there were 11 weapons charges filed, including unlawful use and armed criminal action, compared to 25 charges last year.

The number of homicide-related charges totaled three this year as compared to one case in 2004. In 2005, Cox filed charges of murder in the first degree, murder in the second degree and involuntary manslaughter.

The county saw a moderate decrease in the number of driving while intoxicated (DWI)/leaving the scene of an accident charges, going from 117 in 2004 to 101 this past year. In 2005, the prosecutor's office filed 52 DWI first offense charges, 17 DWI second offense charges and 17 DWI third offense charges.

Charges related to stealing, including stealing, receiving stolen property and failure to return rental property, went from 85 in 2004 to 88 in 2005. The number of cases of property damage and tampering increased slightly rising from 50 in 2004 to 52 in 2005.

Liquor misdemeanor cases involving minor in possession and supplying liquor to a minor declined from nine in 2004 to six in 2005.

Bad check charges also showed a moderate decline from 637 in 2004 to 624 in 2005. There were 101 charges of assault or resisting arrest filed in 2005, compared to 106 in 2004.

Harassment, stalking, disturbing the peace and violation of an order of protection rose slightly with a total of 25 charges filed in 2005 compared to 21 in 2004.

The prosecutor's office filed 22 domestic violence-related charges in 2005, up just three from 2004 figures.

The remaining categories were the same or nearly the same for both years:

• Arson-related charges, five in 2005, four in 2004.

• Traffic-related misde-meanors, 143 in 2005, 136 in 2004.

• Child abuse and endangering the welfare of a child, 26 in 2005, 23 in 2004.

"The charges filed only reflect half of the reports that get referred to our office," said Cox.

Cox also released restitution amounts collected by his office. In 2005, bad check and restitution totalled $236,600.20 as compared to $358,917.91 in 2004. Prosecutor's fees paid in 2005 totalled $36,211.31, as compared to $40,792.80 in 2004. The Barry County Prosecutor's Office is staffed by Cox, part-time Assistant Prosector Pat Sullivan, full-time office workers Chris Wilyard, Debbie Miller, Vicki Easley and Andie Adkins, and part-time investigator Vern Warren.

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