crimesider

Maryville Alleged Rape: Lawyer for teen accused in Mo. sexual assault case questions whether Daisy Coleman was drunk

Nodaway County Courthouse
Flickr via CBS St. Louis
(CBS) MARYVILLE, Mo. - The lawyer for Matthew Barnett,a teen who was alleged to have sexually assaulted 14-year-old Daisy Coleman in Jan. 2012 in Maryville, Mo., says there is a question whether Daisy was incapacitated during the encounter, as she claims.

This seems to contradict a report by the Kansas City Star which said Barnett admitted to authorities that he had sex with Daisy on Jan. 8, 2012 despite being aware that she had been drinking. According to the paper, he insisted the sex was consensual.  Missouri felony statutes define sex as non-consensual when the victim is incapacitated by alcohol.

In a statement obtained by Crimesider, Robert Sundell, Barnett's attorney, says "subsequent investigation and interviews raised substantial doubt about the felony charge, specifically including whether the young lady was incapacitated during the encounter."

Barnett was 17 when he was arrested and charged with felony sexual assault, and misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a child for allegedly leaving Daisy in the front yard of her Maryville home in 22-degree weather. The charges against him were eventually dropped after the prosecutor on the case said there was insufficient evidence and witnesses refused to cooperate.

But Daisy's mother, Melinda Coleman, has said that isn't true.

Sundell backs up the prosecutor's claims, saying, "While charges were pending, counsel for the defendant sought to take the depositions of the accusers and others. ...After being sworn under oath, the accusers and family members refused to answer any questions citing their Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate themselves."

For that reason, Sundell says, the felony charge against Barnett was dropped.

According to the Kansas City Star, Melinda Coleman has said she only invoked her Fifth Amendment right after the felony charges were dropped.

The State continued to pursue the misdemeanor charge of child endangerment, but that charge was also dismissed after, Sundell says, Barnett and others disputed the claim that he left Daisy out in the cold. However, a sheriff's office report obtained by the Kansas City Star reportedly says a 15-year-old boy, who was also implicated in the case, did admit that the boys had left Daisy "outside sitting in 30-degree weather."

Sundell also attributes the dismissal of the misdemeanor charge to the fact that Daisy testified "with numerous inconsistencies and changes to previous statements."

"When the alleged victim's mother was questioned about these changes, she freely admitted that her daughter does not always tell the truth, particularly when she is in a stressful situation," Sundell said in his statement.

Sundell also pointed out that the police reports referenced in the Kansas City Star article were "selectively released by the complainant's family." He said the release violates Missouri statute 610.105 RSMo. which prohibits the release of closed records by law enforcement officials.

Complete coverage of the Maryville alleged rape on Crimesider

  • Stephanie Slifer

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