Pike County sheriff requests special prosecutor in misconduct case

News-DemocratMay 20, 2014 

Joe Christ.

BND

Pike County Sheriff and Coroner Paul Petty, who investigated the overdose death of St. Clair County Associate Judge Joseph Christ, pleaded not guilty to official misconduct charges and asked for the appointment of a special prosecutor.

Petty was charged with official misconduct Friday in connection with the handling of the drug-induced homicide death of Shanda Lopez. Pike County State's Attorney Carrie Boyd charged Petty with releasing the body for embalming before blood was taken to conduct toxicology tests.

Richard Frazier, Petty's attorney, late Monday filed a motion to dismiss the case or appoint a special state's attorney. Under Illinois law, Frazier states that Boyd represents all county officers, including Petty in his capacity as sheriff and coroner. It is also her responsibility, according to Frazier, to defend all defendants investigated for criminal misconduct.

Petty entered a plea of not guilty. He remains sheriff and coroner. Neither Petty nor his attorney Frazier could immediately be reached for comment.

Petty declined comment on Monday.

Frazier stated in his motion that Petty and Boyd had several discussions regarding Lopez's death and the case against John R. Edgar, who was eventually charged with drug-induced homicide.

"At the time of these discussions, an attorney-client relationship between Mr. Petty and Ms. Boyd was formed," Frazier wrote. "In addition, Ms. Boyd may very well be a witness in this matter."

Edgar, 26, of Kampsville, was originally charged with providing heroin to Lopez before her death. Boyd filed an amended charge of the drug-induced homicide against Edgar on April 14. He is scheduled to go to trial on June 24.

Boyd could not be reached for comment.

Petty investigated the death of newly appointed St. Clair County Associate Judge Joe Christ, who died at the Pike County hunting cabin of former Circuit Judge Michael Cook on March 10, 2013. Cook was later arrested outside the Belleville house of his heroin dealer, Sean McGilvery. He was charged with misdemeanor possession of heroin and possession of weapons by an addict. He was sentenced to two years in prison.

Cook is scheduled to report to prison on May 28.

Contact reporter Beth Hundsdorfer at bhundsdorfer@bnd.com or 618-239-2570.

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