Mississippi County Sheriff Cory Hutcheson was in court on Thursday, April 20 to answer to criminal charges in two cases.
Hutcheson went before a judge at 1:30 p.m. for arraignment. The case will be heard in a Mississippi County courtroom by Cape Girardeau County Associate Circuit Judge Gary Kamp.
According to court documents, Judge S. Rob Barker recused himself from both cases. The Missouri Supreme Court reassigned both cases to Kamp.
Neither side wanted to make a comment before or after arraignment.
Hutcheson was in the courtroom with his lawyer. He was quiet and polite to the judge, according to KFVS multimedia journalist Sherae Honeycutt who sat in on the arraignment.
He is due back in court on June 20.
Hutcheson is accused of illegally pinging the cell phones of several members of law enforcement and a judge in one case. In the other, he's accused of assaulting a woman and making false statements about the alleged assault in a court document.
His attorney, Scott Rosenblum of Clayton, Missouri, drafted the following statement on April 11 on Hutcheson's behalf:
Sheriff Cory Hutcheson sincerely thanks everyone for the tremendous support he has received from the community. We are confident once the facts come out, the prosecution of Sheriff Hutcheson will be shown to be misguided and politically motivated.
Sheriff Hutcheson will enter a plea of not guilty, and he looks forward to addressing these charges in court. The sheriff is looking forward to continuing his work and dedicating himself to the citizens of Mississippi County.
Hutcheson was arrested on Wednesday, April 5, following investigations by the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the FBI.
On Thursday, April 6, we learned Missouri DPS Director Drew Juden signed an order to suspend Hutcheson's peace officer license.
According to Attorney General Josh Hawley, in the first complaint, Hutcheson faces seven counts of forgery, seven counts of tampering with computer data, and one count of notary misconduct. The alleged crimes happened in 2014 when Hutcheson was a deputy.
Hawley said Hutcheson is accused of using his position to illegally ping the cell phones of several members of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, former Mississippi County Sheriff Keith Moore, and Circuit Judge David Dolan.
In the second complaint, Hutcheson is charged with second-degree assault, first-degree robbery, and false declaration. Those charges stem from an incident that happened in March 2017.
Hutcheson is accused of handcuffing a 77-year-old woman with enough force that she had a heart attack. Hawley said that the victim was in the hospital for three days.
Investigators said Hutcheson arrested the woman because she was in a civil dispute with one of his family members.
He reportedly went to a business in East Prairie, while in uniform, to get his sister-in-law's paycheck.
The victim said that Hutcheson's sister-in-law had taken something from the business and the owner said she would not get her final paycheck until the property was returned.
Court documents show he is charged with robbery for allegedly forcibly stealing a paycheck from the victim who is an employee of the business.
She told investigators that Hutcheson told her he would arrest her for assaulting his sister-in-law if the paycheck wasn't handed over.
According to the probable cause statement, after the victim refused, Hutcheson grabbed the woman's arm and put on a handcuff and pulled on it until the cuff broke the skin and the woman started to bleed. He then reportedly grabbed her other arm so hard she was bruised. After grabbing the check from the victim, he reportedly uncuffed her and left.
The victim told police that about 15 minutes after Hutcheson left the business, she started experiencing chest pain. Doctors at a Sikeston hospital determined the victim was having a heart attack and she was taken to a Cape Girardeau hospital by ambulance. She was treated for a heart attack and spent three days in the hospital.
Investigators said Hutcheson went to a bank in town and deposited the check in his sister-in-law's account.
Later that day, he filed a probable cause statement claiming the woman kidnapped and assaulted his sister-in-law. Hutcheson wrote that she was "held against her will by two elderly females when she went to pick up her final paycheck from them."
Hutcheson was housed in the Cape Girardeau County jail for several hours after his arrest. He posted bond the same day. A judge set bond in the forgery case at $25,000 cash only. Bond in the assault case was set at $50,000 cash or surety. Court documents show a cashiers check of $25,000 was posted.
Mississippi County Sheriff's Department Captain Barry Morgan released a statement on Thursday, April 6:
"Sheriff Cory Hutcheson does not have a comment at this time other than the allegations are untrue, and that it will be resolved in court. Today is business as usual, and he cares about his citizens. Deputies will respond to every single call as he promised since the first of the year. This will not slow us down whatsoever."
That same day, KFVS12 received a copy of an emergency order, issued by Missouri Director of Public Safety Drew Juden, saying that Hutcheson's peace officer license had been suspended. The order said the charges against him presented a "clear and present danger to the public health or safety" if he remained commissioned as a peace officer.
According to the Missouri Department of Public Safety, Hutcheson does not have the authority to arrest anyone right now. But, he can technically still serve as sheriff.
Many people in the community we talked to in the days after his arrest said that they believe Hutcheson has done a lot for Mississippi County. Others said he may have done too much to try and get drugs off the street.
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