Friday, October 07, 2022

Thirty writers attending annual Joplin Writers' Faire Saturday

 The annual Joplin Writers' Faire is scheduled for Saturday 10 a.m. to 1 pm. at the Joplin Public Library.

I will be among approximately 30 writers at the event and will have copies of my books Only in Lamar, Missouri: Harry Truman, Wyatt Earp and Legendary Locals, Rembering: People ho Touched Our Lives, the 10th anniversary edition of 5:41: Stories from the Joplin Tornado and The Buck Starts Here: Harry S. Truman and the City of Lamar for sale.

I will also be giving away free copies of many of my older books to those of you who have signed up for the Turner Report Newsletter or those who sign up for the newsletter Saturday.

See you there!

Schmitt standing in the way of overturning wrongful convictions

By Rebecca Rivas

Up until last year, if elected prosecutors believed a person was wrongfully convicted, there wasn’t anything they could do about it.

A state law, passed in May 2021, changed that, giving them a pathway to present evidence of innocence to a judge. And since then, three prosecutors have filed motions to set people free from prison or clear their records.

On the day the law went into effect in August 2021, Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney Jean Peters Baker filed a motion to vacate Kevin Strickland’s murder conviction. He was set free last November after serving 43 years of a life sentence.


Washington County Prosecuting Attorney Joshua Hedgecorth followed in May, filing a motion regarding the conviction of Michael Politte, who was released on parole on April 22 after serving 23 years for murder. His case is still pending.

Then in August came St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s motion for Lamar Johnson, who Gardner believes is innocent of a 1994 murder.

“The circuit attorney cannot, and will not, turn a blind eye to the conviction of an innocent person,” Johnson’s motion filed in the 22nd Circuit Court states.

All three cases have one thing in common: Fierce opposition from Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt.

In the Strickland case, Baker said Schmitt’s office tried a number of “bizarre” ways to keep Strickland from getting his day in court. Schmitt even attempted to get the case renamed, from “State of Missouri v. Kevin Strickland” to “Jean Peters Baker v. State of Missouri,” which Baker said was an effort to shift the focus away from an innocent man and onto her personally.

Since May, Hedgecorth and Politte’s attorneys have been hit with a constant stream of motions from the attorney general’s office, which included opposing the case from being heard in Washington County.

Last month, a St. Louis judge set a Dec. 12 hearing for Johnson. That same day, Schmitt’s office added five attorneys to the case.


The attorney general will likely “waste” an enormous amount of taxpayer money on preventing Johnson’s case from getting a hearing, Baker said, just as he did in Strickland’s and Politte’s cases.

But if the pattern holds true, she predicts Schmitt’s team won’t have any evidence to present in court.

“At the end of the day, I was embarrassed for them,” Baker said of Schmitt’s office’s performance during Strickland’s hearing. “If [Johnson and Politte] get a fair setting…the attorney general’s office is in trouble because they cannot compete in a courtroom where actual justice is being sought, facts are being sought, and real evidence is being discussed. They can’t win there.”

Schmitt, who is also the Republican nominee for Missouri’s open U.S. Senate seat, responded to the criticism through a spokesman, who said in an email: “It has been and continues to be one of the duties of the attorney general’s office to uphold criminal convictions, and that’s what we’ve worked to do.”

Schmitt's opposition

While Baker filed a motion to vacate Strickland’s conviction in August 2021, it took her more than two months to get into a courtroom. She blames Schmitt’s opposition.

But in Johnson’s case, it’s been more than three years since the attorney general began fighting to prevent Gardner from getting a hearing.

“It’s got to be gut wrenching for her,” Baker said of Gardner.

Gardner’s office declined comment due to the ongoing litigation.

Johnson’s was the first exoneration case that Gardner’s conviction-integrity unit brought forth in July 2019. It was a case that prosecutors statewide were watching closely.

Gardner hit a major roadblock when the circuit judge asked Schmitt to intervene.

Schmitt argued all the way to the Missouri Supreme Court that the state’s elected prosecutors don’t have the power to ask for a new trial, even if they have evidence that a person has languished in prison for decades wrongfully.

The state’s highest court sided with Schmitt in March 2021, saying the Missouri legislature had to pass a law creating a pathway for prosecutors to correct wrongful convictions.

Legislators did that last year.

While the new state law gave Gardner and other prosecutors the authority to address wrongful convictions, it also gave the attorney general the power to insert himself into these cases.

The attorney general is not a party in these cases, but he has the ability to “file a motion to dismiss the motion to vacate or to set aside the judgment in any appeal filed by the prosecuting or circuit attorney,” the law states.

In Politte’s case, Schmitt’s team filed a motion to dismiss, saying that Hedgecorth didn’t have jurisdiction because the case changed venues to St. Francois County many years ago.

However, Hedgecorth responded in court documents that the Washington County prosecutor was required by state law “to prosecute this case after the change of venue – at trial, sentencing, and any motion hearings over the last twenty years. The Washington County prosecuting attorney never lost jurisdiction.”

The judge in Politte’s case denied all of the attorney general’s motions, but Schmitt appealed.

Hedgecorth did not respond to a request for comment.

Baker says she sympathizes with the struggle both Gardner and Hedgecorth going through — knowing innocent people are languishing in prison because of Schmitt’s actions.

“It hurts,” Baker said. “That’s why I get so upset with the attorney general’s office because they seem to believe it’s just sort of an academic kind of process. And it’s not. We’re talking about real people’s lives and the value of the criminal justice system.”

Thursday, October 06, 2022

Sam Graves: My blueprint for U. S. energy independence

(From Sixth District Congressman Sam Graves)

The price of gas is going up—again.

In case you haven’t heard the news or seen the prices climb at your local gas station yet, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) just announced they’re cutting back oil production by 2 million barrels a day. In other words, President Biden’s attempt to beg Iran, Venezuela, and Saudi Arabia to pump more oil backfired, big time. And now, American families are going to have to pay the price.

It doesn’t have to be like this. America has been blessed with an abundance of natural resources. We have the 9th largest proven oil reserves in the world and almost a billion acres of the best farmland on the planet. We have the ability—through drilling and biofuel production—to be energy independent. We don’t have to beg foreign cartels to pump more oil—so why are we?

The Administration has been waging a war on American energy production. They’ve been denying permits, blocking pipeline projects, and undercutting American biofuels. Instead of working to increase American energy production, they’ve done everything they can to stop American energy production and make us more reliant on OPEC. They’ve done all of this because they think it’s better for the environment. It isn’t and it doesn’t have to be this way.

It shouldn’t matter who is in the White House, this country needs to be energy independent. That’s why I introduced my blueprint for American energy independence with Congressman Bruce Westerman of Arkansas. The TAP American Energy Act would cut through all the red tape holding back American energy production, mandate the President move forward with new drilling leases, and put an end to all this nonsense once and for all.

Our energy independence is far too important to be left to the whims of whoever is in the White House. We need clear and concise laws that put the American people first. We need to be energy independent to protect American jobs and keep the price of gas in this country affordable.

That’s the only way we’re going to see some sanity return to prices at the pump. We have to control our own destiny from here on out.

Bill White offers update on completed special session

(From Sen. Bill White, R-Joplin)

The Missouri Senate completed the governor’s call for an extra legislative session this week when my colleagues and I truly agreed to and finally passed a comprehensive agriculture bill. 

This proposal extends the Meat Processing Facility Investment Tax Credit and others through 2028; establishes incentives for ethanol and biodiesel producers and retailers; and creates several economic opportunities for urban and family farm operations. 

Agriculture is one of the top economic drivers in our state, so these substantial extensions and new credit incentives will assist our hardworking farmers and ranchers as they combat the rising costs of supplies and equipment.

Last week the House passed the extra session income tax cut measure, Senate Bill 3, the other piece of legislation sought by the governor in his late August call. Beginning next year, our state’s top income tax rate will be reduced from 5.3% to 4.95%, allowing taxpayers to keep more of their hard-earned money. The legislation includes a fiscally responsible blueprint to ultimately reduce income tax rates to 4.5% in the coming years, with income threshold triggers built in to safeguard our economy from fluctuations in general revenue. Both of these extra legislative proposals were signed into law by the governor on Oct. 5.

Wednesday, October 05, 2022

Try this Turner Report Newsletter sample

 Last week after noticing that fewer and fewer people are seeing links to my blog posts on Facebook, I launched the Turner Report Newsletter, something which I should have done a long time ago.

Each day, the newsletter provides links to all posts from the Turner Report, Inside Joplin and Inside Joplin Obituaries, links to news stories and videos that might interest you and my introductory message.

People can skip through the links and choose which ones they want to check out and hopefully, this will prevent people from seeing stories that would have interested them but they never appeared in their Facebook newsfeeds.

I will also be having contests, giveaways and adding additional regular features.

The newsletter enables me to expand my news operation in a way that has not been possible through the use of multiple blogs, as well as enabling me to get the most out of those blogs.

The sample Turner Report Newsletter below is from Tuesday.

Those who are interested in receiving the newsletter can e-mail me at or message me on Facebook with your e-mail address.


The country music legends that I first remember listening to in the 1960s have been leaving us steadily over the past few years as they moved into their 70s, 80s and 90s.
We've lost Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Buck Owens, Sonny James, Tammy Wynette, George Jones and so many more.
Today, another giant of that era, Loretta Lynn, died at age 90.
About the only one left from that era is Willie Nelson. Hang in there, Willie.

One of the last of the legendary country singers who launched their careers in the ‘60s, Loretta Lynn, died today at age 90. 

Loretta Lynn, coal miner's daughter turned country queen, dies at 90 | CNN 

Monday's newsletter included a link to the obituary of Ron Ferguson of Carthage. I wrote a post about him today in the Turner Report.
Today would have been Ron's 73rd birthday.
A quick reminder that I will be at the Joplin Public Library 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday for the annual Joplin Writers Faire. I will have copies of my news books for sale, and as I mentioned Monday, I will give free copies of some of my older books to any of you who come by and to anyone who signs up for the Turner Report Newsletter that day. Please feel free to forward this newsletter to friends and family, encourage them to sign up. I will have many more giveaways and contests in the future. 
More information about the Joplin Writers Faire will be included in this week's newsletters.
From the Turner Report
From Inside Joplin

From Inside Joplin Obituaries

Inside Joplin Obituaries: Ronald Whitehill

Inside Joplin Obituaries: Jim Mabie

Inside Joplin Obituaries: Irma Lindsey

Inside Joplin Obituaries: Ruby Griffin

Inside Joplin Obituaries: Mark Tichenor

Inside Joplin Obituaries: Agnes Veale

Inside Joplin Obituaries: Nancy Stipp

Inside Joplin Obituaries: John Wiseman

Inside Joplin Obituaries: Charles Clark

Inside Joplin Obituaries: Bonnie Hooley

Inside Joplin Obituaries: Dwain Newman

Inside Joplin Obituaries: Norman Rumble

Today's Videos