July 12, 2004 -- Posted ate 4:13 p.m. CDT
POPLAR BLUFF -- The first day of a legal battle began today for one Region 8 sheriff. Monday's proceedings were standard, this case is anything but.
The sheriff plead in not guiltytoday's arraignment?))
((jasper edmunson/heaton's attorney: oh, of course . obviously not guilty))
those are the words of jasper edmunson, sheriff bill heaton's attorney.
heaton faces misdemeanor charges of stealing by deceit and tampering with a witness.
he also faces a felony charge of corruption.
((heather flanigan: sheriff bill heaton didn't actually appear in court today, instead his lawyers filed paper waiving his right to appear. now he did spend the day here working at the butler county sheriff's department doing his normal and regular duties.))
((jasper edmunson/heaton's attorney: i try to avoid trying these cases in the media. i know you guys have a job to do and i respect that. but we prefer to try these cases in the court room and i'm actually looking forward to it. i don't think it will take long because i think it will get to trial very, very shortly.))
the charges resulted from an investigation conducted by the missouri highway patrol's division of drug and crime control.
something that couldn't come at a worse time for a sheriff seeking reelection.
((heather flanigan: do you think this will be over and done with before the november election?))
((jasper edmunson/heaton's attorney: we would like to have a preliminary hearing before the primary. i would hope that we could get the trial before november. i think that's in the sheriff's best interest, and the county's best interest. i think everybody deserves to have a frank look at this in the bright of the day.))
the date for the preliminary hearing hasn't been set yet.
in an unexpected move today, judge john bloodworth stepped down from the case.
the missouri state supreme court now has the task of appointing a special judge who will likely be from outside of bulter county.
we'll keep you posted as details develop.