In the wake of revelations of possible prosecutorial misconduct in the Daisy Coleman rape case in Maryville, Nodaway County, Missouri, and the attention that these accusations of impropriety have garnered from the entire nation, and also from the hacktivist group Anonymous, new developments took place on Wednesday which may result in the case being reopened.
The incident in question occurred on January 8, 2012. The night before, Daisy was having her friend Paige Parkhurst over to spend the night at the Coleman home. The girls were 14, and 13, respectively, at the time. Coleman had been in touch with Matthew Barnett, a 17-year-old boy, and both girls snuck out of the house during the night so he could pick them up in his car.
Barnett then took the girls to his house. There, Daisy was allegedly given a clear substance, which caused her to black out. She was found around 5 a.m. by her mother, Melinda, on the front yard of the Coleman home in near-freezing temperatures. As Melinda tried to warm her daughter up in a bath tub, she suspected Daisy might have been sexually assaulted, which led to a criminal investigation and the arrest of Matthew Barnett, and another 17-year-old boy, Jordan Zech, in the matter concerning Daisy. Parkhurst was also allegedly raped by a 15-year-old boy, and that case has been settled.
Barnett has admitted to having sex with Daisy, and Zech was supposedly taken into custody for recording video of the act; however, despite this evidence, prosecutor Robert Rice opted to drop the charges for lack of sufficient evidence for a conviction.
Both victims have agreed to come forward and have their names publicized in the hopes that Daisy’s case is reopened. In addition to the charges being dropped, some other inconsistencies have cropped up, such as Rice and Nodaway County Sheriff Darren White denying that the forensic lab that the evidence was turned over to was able to retrieve video footage of the rape. Also, it has been revealed that Burnett comes from a politically influential family, and his grandfather is Rex Barnett, a former state representative.
Both Coleman and Parkhurst have said that they have suffered cyberbullying in the wake of the incident, to the extent that Melinda Coleman decided to move her family out of Maryville. Their home, which had been put up for sale, burnt down with no explanation for the fire having been offered as of yet. This set of circumstances led hacktivist group anonymous to call for the case to be reopened, as they did in regard to the Steubenville rape. It is unknown how much of an effect this call to action has had in the new developments; but a day after it, state and county authorities took action in the case.
Missouri Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder has asked both Rice, and State Attorney General Chris Koster to convene a grand jury to decide if the case should be reopened. Kinder, for his part, has issued a statement saying that under state law he cannot revise Rice’s decision to drop charges. Rice in turn has petitioned in court for a special prosecutor to be appointed to review the case.
It is yet unknown whether charges will be filed again in the Daisy Coleman rape case, and if so, when; but these new developments indicate that even Rice wants outside involvement at this point so the pressure will be taken off him.
By Milton Ruiz