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Lawyer offers to dismiss charge against Dallas County man charged in Cassidy Rainwater’s death

James Phelps, the Dallas County man accused of kidnapping and murdering 33-year-old Cassidy Rainwater, is asking that one of the charges against him be dismissed.

Phelps is charged with first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping and leaving a corpse, but he’s asking a judge to dismiss the dropping of a corpse charge – a Class E felony, the least serious charge he faces – with his lawyer arguing that he violates Phelps’ constitutional rights.

Under Missouri law, a person is guilty of abandoning a dead body if they “abandon, dispose of, abandon, or leave a dead body without properly reporting the location of the body to the appropriate law enforcement officials in the this county”.

In a motion filed in Dallas County Court, Phelps’ attorney, Thomas Jacquinot, argued that accusing Phelps – a person accused of participating in a murder – of abandoning a corpse for failing to report the location of a body to authorities violated his Fifth Amendment right. remain silent and avoid self-incrimination.

Continued: Murder charges filed, gruesome details released in Cassidy Rainwater case

Jacquinot, a public defender who handles death penalty cases, argued that the state cannot charge an alleged killer with not reporting the location of a body because reporting the death would be an admission. of some sort of involvement in the homicide.

“A person implicated in a murder cannot be charged with abandonment of a corpse for failing to report the body of the murder victim to the police, as this would require that person to report his own crime or, at a minimum, to provide” a link in the chain’ to his eventual prosecution, in violation of the right to silence and the privilege against self-incrimination,” Jacquinot wrote in the motion.

James Phelps appears on screen for a hearing in a Dallas County courtroom on October 5, 2021.

The state, represented by Dallas County Attorney Johnathon Barker, responded to the motion, arguing that “reporting the location of the remains to the appropriate authorities can be done anonymously, thereby avoiding any self- incrimination”.

At a hearing last Friday, Judge John Porter agreed to take over the case at a later date.

Also at last week’s hearing, Judge Porter granted a motion to allow Phelps to appear in plain clothes for future hearings where cameras will be present.

Continued: What We Know So Far About Cassidy Rainwater’s Disappearance in Dallas County

Phelps is due in court on June 3 for his preliminary hearing, which has been repeatedly postponed since his first arrest last year. He is being held in the Dallas County Jail without bond.

Phelps’ co-defendant, Timothy Norton, waived his preliminary hearing earlier this month and pleaded not guilty to all charges against him.

Norton and Phelps are accused of kidnapping and killing Rainwater, who was last seen alive in July.

The men were arrested in September last year after authorities said they obtained photos of Rainwater in a cage on Phelps’ property. Those photos, along with photos of Rainwater hanging from a gantry crane being dismembered and gutted, were sent in an anonymous tip to the FBI, according to court documents.

Continued: Dallas County kidnapping suspect’s home fire was arson, investigators say

When investigators searched Phelps’ property, court documents say they found Rainwater’s remains in a freezer in packages labeled 7-24, the last day Rainwater was believed to be alive. Phelps’ house was later burned down after his arrest. Investigators determined it was an arson attack.

Jordan Meier covers public safety for the Springfield News-Leader. Contact her at [email protected], or on Twitter @Jordan_Meier644.

This article originally appeared on Springfield News-Leader: Dallas County murder suspect’s attorney offers to dismiss charge