BARBER COUNTY, Kan. – KSN has obtained body cam footage of the moments leading up to and after the night Steven Myers was shot and killed by a Barber County Sheriff’s Deputy.

Kristina Myers, Myers’ widow says she was not given any warning before the release of the video.

“You know I could have been in the living room watching TV and it could have just come on. No one notified us that they had released it,” says Myers.

It also comes as a shock to her and the family’s legal counsel.

Michael Kuckleman, counsel for the family, “We don’t know why it was released. Up until yesterday the sheriff had been arguing that it was protected under the exception for criminal investigation.”

Attorney Jeff Jordan, who is representing Sheriff Lonnie Small of the Barber County Sheriff’s Office, says they released the footage as part of Kansas Open Records Act. He says he cannot comment on the content of the video. Myers’s family are now pressing for more footage.

Kuckelman says, “We don’t know how many are available. What we do know is they have released a dash and a body cam for 3 of the four officers who were there that night. The 4th officer they haven’t released anything and the fourth officer just happens to be the shooter.”

Myers says, “We are trying to stay strong, trying to stick together and help the kids get through the Christmas holiday without too much of a hiccup.”

KSN sought legal counsel from defense attorney Dan Monnat to see if it is common in Kansas for a judge to order the release of the video, like what was done in this case, and what should be expected when the public requests body cam footage from police.

Monnat says, “Well, I don’t think it is common, but I think it ought to be common because transparency is exactly what we should have in a free country.”

A hearing will take place Friday at Barber County District Court. Both the sheriff and undersheriff have been subpoenaed to take the stand. Attorneys representing the family say the purpose of the hearing is to determine if there have been any violations of the Kansas Open Records Act.

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Eli O’Brien has joined Monnat & Spurrier, Chartered as an associate attorney. His primary practice will focus on the defense of serious felony accusations.

O’Brien has been an attorney with the Sedgwick County Public Defender’s Office since 2015, providing counsel and trial advocacy for indigent persons accused of felony crimes.

“We’re delighted to have Eli join the firm as he will be a welcome addition to our ever-expanding criminal defense practice,” said Dan Monnat, President of the firm. “We are seeing a significant influx of criminal defense matters, at all levels of severity from misdemeanors to serious felony cases. Eli tried several difficult jury trials while at the Public Defender’s Office, and that broad experience will serve our client base particularly well.”

A graduate of Washburn University School of Law, O’Brien also holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Emporia State University. He is a member of the Kansas Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys.

Founded in 1985 by litigator Dan Monnat and legal scholar Stan Spurrier, Monnat & Spurrier has built an international reputation for criminal defense and appellate defense. In addition to Monnat, Spurrier and O’Brien, the firm includes two former prosecutors, Trevor Riddle and Sal Intagliata, associate attorney Matt Gorney, and legal research and writing specialist Kathryn Stevenson.

In a rare move, a federal judge has thrown out a defendant’s conviction on drug charges after ruling that the prosecutor had interfered with his Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial.

In a blistering decision handed down Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson found that the prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Terra Morehead, had “substantially interfered with a defense witness’s decision to testify” in the case.

According to Robinson’s order, Morehead told the witness’s attorney that if the witness “got in her way, she would get in his way” in a separate case in which he was the defendant. That, said Robinson, went beyond the bounds of a straightforward perjury warning.

“While a limited warning of consequences for committing perjury is proper, a warning of consequences for simply taking the stand crosses the boundary line into improper witness interference,” Robinson ruled.

She added that Morehead “should have had a heightened awareness of the bounds of fair play and the gravity of witness interference” because she was accused of witness intimidation in another, highly publicized case.

The defendant in that case, Lamonte McIntyre, was exonerated in October after serving 23 years for two murders he did not commit. McIntyre’s attorneys had accused Morehead, who was a Wyandotte County prosecutor when she tried the case, of threatening to bring contempt charges against a witness and to have her children taken away if she refused to testify against McIntyre.

Jim Cross, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Kansas, where Morehead has been a federal prosecutor for the last 15 years, declined to comment on Robinson’s decision.

The defendant in the case, Gregory Orozco, was charged with drug trafficking and firearm offenses. The issue of Morehead’s interference arose when Orozco proposed to call a witness to rebut the testimony of one of the government’s chief witnesses.

Orozco’s witness was himself awaiting trial on federal drug charges, and Robinson ruled that Morehead could ask him when he took the stand whether he was seeking favorable treatment in his case in return for testifying. But she also told Morehead that she couldn’t ask him about the underlying circumstances of his case because that would infringe on his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself.

But the witness decided not to testify on Orozco’s behalf after Morehead relayed the warning to his attorney and also told her that she knew which prosecutor in Missouri was handling his indictment. Orozco then felt compelled to take the witness stand himself, which allowed Morehead to cross-examine him about his lengthy criminal record.

Had Orozco not felt compelled to testify, the jury wouldn’t have heard about the extent or nature of his prior convictions, Robinson wrote. “The Court thus concludes that AUSA Morehead’s prosecutorial misconduct, in violating Defendant’s Sixth Amendment right, prejudiced the Defendant.”

James Campbell, Orozco’s attorney, declined to comment other than to say that Robinson’s decision “speaks for itself.”

Dan Monnat, a Wichita attorney who has practiced law for 41 years, called Robinson’s ruling “a brave and wise decision.”

“Prosecutors wield tremendous power, but the Bill of Rights is a check on that power and the Bill of Rights prevents a prosecutor from denying an accused the witness needed for a fair trial by the prosecutor threatening and intimidating the defense witnesses,” said Monnat, who was not involved in the Orozco case.

Monnat said he has seen judges dismiss cases because of prosecutorial misconduct, “but not this particular kind of prosecutorial misconduct.”

He added: “Judges work with federal prosecutors every day and judges often work with the same federal prosecutors every day. It always has to be difficult for a judge to say to a prosecutor the judge regularly sees, ‘You committed misconduct and this case is going to be dismissed forever because of that misconduct.’ That’s why I say it’s a brave and wise decision.”

Tom Bradshaw, a veteran criminal lawyer in Kansas City, said that most people don’t understand how difficult it is to present a defense in a federal criminal prosecution.
Unlike in civil cases, in federal criminal cases attorneys can’t depose witnesses to determine what they plan to testify about. And the government isn’t required, prior to trial, to answer interrogatories, or questions, presented by the other side.

“So any interference with the defendant’s presentation of evidence is extremely serious and, as Judge Robinson pointed out, can be harmful to the entire system of criminal justice,” Bradshaw said.

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