Nicole Voss appears in court while in custody
The 36-year-old Beckemeyer woman accused of running over and killing her toddler in August 2017 says her constitutional rights were violated when authorities released 103 documents and eight CDs of evidence to the Belleville News-Democrat in response to its Freedom of Information Act request.
Nicole Voss’ attorney, Dennis Hatch, filed a motion Sept. 5 asking the court to dismiss the charges against Voss, to recuse the state’s attorney and to appoint a special prosecutor.
Voss is facing four counts of aggravated DUI and one count of reckless homicide in the Aug. 7, 2017 death of her 2-year-old son, Jensen Voss. In addition, she faces a charge of driving with a revoked license.
Those charges were filed March 21, 2018 — the same day Clinton County State’s Attorney officials released the evidence to the BND in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.
In his Sept. 5 motion, Hatch argued that releasing 103 pages and eight CDs of evidence showed that prosecutors acted “intentionally, negligently, deliberately and prejudicially to the detriment of (Voss’) right to a fair trial.” Thus, he argued, her constitutional rights were violated and prosecutors showed a bias against Voss.
Hatch further alleged prosecutors made “extrajudicial comments” by releasing the evidence to the BND, knowing that those materials would be made public, posing a threat to a fair trial. By doing this, Hatch wrote, they posed a “serious and imminent threat of heightening public condemnation of the accused.”
In response to this motion, Clinton County State’s Attorney John Hudspeth wrote that Hatch’s argument has been presented to and rejected by the Public Access Counsel of the State of Illinois Attorney General.
He further asserted releasing the documents upon the FOIA request was a decision made with “thoughtful legal analysis and reliance on persuasive authority.”
Judge Stanley M. Brandmeyer granted Hatch’s request and appointed the Attorney General’s Office as special prosecutor on the case.
In response, however, the Illinois Attorney General Office filed a motion to reinstate the Clinton County State’s Attorney in the case, arguing that the office’s response to the FOIA request did not constitute a conflict of interest.
On Dec. 3, the Clinton County State’s Attorney was reinstated.
In November, Hatch filed another motion to find FOIA, as applied to Voss’ case, unconstitutional and again requested the Clinton County State’s Attorney be recused from the case.
He reiterated his arguments made in the first motion, that evidentiary materials released to the BND denigrated Voss’ “constitutional rights to be tried before an impartial jury, right to a speedy trial, due process, equal protection.”
The motion was denied, “as that the constitutionality of the FOIA is not a justiciable issue before the Court,” online court records state.
Hatch then filed a motion Jan. 16 to reconsider, stating the court did not allow Voss her right to present testimony and evidence in regards to the motion to find FOIA unconstitutional.
Voss had requested a transcript of the hearing Dec. 19, 2018 in which the motion to find FOIA unconstitutional was denied. Once she receives it, Hatch wrote, she will seek time to amend the motion filed in January to reconsider the ruling.
Hatch declined to comment on the ongoing case.
Hudspeth did not return calls for comment.
Online court records indicate Voss will stand trial April 1 and is scheduled for a hearing Feb. 6 on a motion to modify her bond conditions.
Investigators said Voss’ son was in an SUV parked in a Keyesport driveway on Aug. 7, 2017 when he apparently climbed out as Voss was getting ready to drive the vehicle. The mother did not realize her son wasn’t in the vehicle and began to drive away, striking and killing the child.
Jensen Voss died in the driveway of a Keyesport man who was facing two pending meth charges. In an interview in the days following the boy’s death, the resident, Ryan Rensing, told the BND there were no drugs being done at his home when Nicole Voss was there. He said she was at his home with a mutual friend.
However, the charges filed against Voss alleges she had meth in her system at the time of the child’s death. A friend, Charlotte Revell, told police she believed Voss had developed a meth addiction and that Voss had been awake for seven days straight prior to the child’s death.
Police reports obtained by the News-Democrat through an open-records request state that investigators saw bruising on the child’s body that appeared to be caused by the tire of the vehicle.