Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Judge rejects effort to move accused Carthage child killer's case out of Jasper County

Jasper County Circuit Court Judge David Mouton rejected a motion to move accused murderer Tearra Olson's trial out of Jasper County.

In court documents, Olson's attorney, public defender Larry Maples, argued that heavy publicity and candelight vigils for two-year-old murder victim Emalata Hoeft, prejudiced the jury pool to the point that his client would not be able to receive a fair trial in Jasper County.

In September of 2015, there were at least two public gatherings over the incident, gatherings organized by members of the community. One was described as a candelight vigil. One included prayer and a moment of silence.

At least, perhaps both, gatherings were attended not only by the general public, but by members of the Carthage Police Department, apparently including the chief of police and member of the Jasper County court system. 

Other reasons cited by Maples to move his 20-year-old client's trial:

- Social media comments including "Poor baby, hope that dog dies in jail for what she did to the angel," and "we just need to hang people that hurt kids.

-The media declaring that the Emalata Hoeft's death "had been declared a homicide."

In a response filed by Jasper County Prosecuting Attorney Dean Dankelson, it was noted that another case of a child's murder, the trial of Eddie Salazar, was held in Jasper County and that there was no evidence that the media had unduly influenced the public.

The trial is scheduled to begin January 9, 2017, in Jasper County Circuit Court, Division 3 in Joplin.

Olson is charged with second degree murder and felony abuse or neglect of a child. She told police she slammed two-year-old Emalata's head against a hard surface three times August 29, 2015, resulting in the child's death.

Olson was living with the child's father, Albert Steven O'Connor. She told police that Emalata Hoeft was crying and out of frustration she hit the child's head against the hard surface.

Olson and O'Connor left the girl at home, locked in her room with a sippy cup, while he worked at Butterball and she worked at Flex-O-Lators, according to the probable cause affidavit.

O'Connor pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of a child and was sentenced to seven years in prison.

No comments: