KANSAS CITY, Mo. --Documents and video just released in a controversial Maryville court case uncover new details and questions. You may remember the victim in this case, Daisy Coleman, was 14 years old when she accused a then 17-year-old Matthew Barnett of rape after a night of drinking.
The case made national headlines when Daisy’s mom, Melinda Coleman, alleged prosecutorial misconduct. The investigation began in January 2012.
Nodaway County Prosecutor Robert Rice initially filed felony sex and child endangerment charges against Barnett. Those were dropped with Rice saying the Coleman's refused to cooperate.
Then late in 2013 there was renewed interest in the case after the Coleman's spoke publicly. Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker was appointed special prosecutor and in January, 2014, Baker’s investigation ended with Barnett pleading guilty to child endangerment. Barnett admitted to leaving Daisy outside her home, incapacitated in the snow and cold.
A Missouri Sunshine Law request from FOX 4 led to prosecutors releasing the entire case file, including the originally investigative documents from Nodaway County. The file included the videotaped interrogation of Barnett with a Nodaway County Sheriff’s Department investigator. The interview with Barnett took place the morning of the alleged assault and lasted just 17 minutes.
Also released, the July 2012 criminal deposition of Daisy and her mom, who were questioned under oath by both Rice and Barnett’s defense attorney.
The interviews included details never before released, like Melinda telling Barnett’s defense attorney that the doctor who treated Daisy that morning told her the girl's injuries were consistent with rape.
And in Daisy’s interview, the teenager admitted it was possible that she’s indicated in text to Barnett that night she’d provide Barnett with some type of sexual favors if he brought over alcohol.
The deposition of Coleman raises some questions about the way Rice handled the case.
Coleman heard her Miranda rights and Rice questioned her several times, all in front of Barnett’s defense attorney.
Criminal defense attorney David Langston wasn’t involved in the Maryville case, but questions that lack of prodding in Barnett’s initial interview with investigators.
But more unusual according to Langston is that Rice read Daisy her rights before the deposition began. "That is highly unusual. I've never been in a deposition where that's happened," Langston said.
Documents show Rice and the defense attorney going back and forth in their questioning of Daisy.
"I think it's not good trial tactic in my opinion. And that is just my opinion. But it would seem to me, those would be better questions asked in preparation before the trial or in a private conversation if your deciding what charges to pursue and what charges to take to trial," Langston said.
Langston does not, however, believe Rice acted unethically or should be reprimanded by the bar.