Entries categorized "White v. McKinley"

White v. McKinley: More Shocking Facts in False Child Molestation Case

Earlier today the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a jury verdict in White v. McKinley.  In White v. McKinley, a wife falsely accused her husband of child molestation. The cop she was having an affair with withheld evidence exonerating the husband. At least two prosecutors (Jennifer Mettler and Jill Kanatzar) knew about the affair, but didn't disclose this information to the defense. 

The husband was convicted of child molestation, and spent over 5 years in prison.  Only later did he learn about the affair.   The Missouri Court of Appeals reversed his conviction.  After being re-tried twice, the husband was exonerated.

Before he was exonerated at trial, his wife filed for divorce.  As part of the divorce settlement, she received $6,100 in child support, and $600,000 in company stock.  She then married the police detective who conspired with her to convict an innocent man.

After being exonerated, the husband sued.  In 2008, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals panel allowed the case proceed to trial.  White v. McKinley (2008) (here).  The initial panel's decision presented facts even more disturbing than its 2010 White opinion:

Prior to [the detective's January 1999 deposition, the prosecutor told Richard that he would need to answer questions aboutthe affair truthfully. The prosecutor said he would cough to signal to Richard when he needed to disclose the affair in response to a question. Richard was asked if he had any personal interest in the case, during a deposition, and he stated he did not. The prosecutor did not signal him to say otherwise. Consequently, White never learned ofRichard and Tina's affair before his first criminal trial.

How is that not a conspiracy to obstruct justice?  The detective and prosecutor clearly conspired to deprive an innocent man of his rights.  They clearly intended to obstruct a criminal investigation.  As the detective was under oath during the deposition, the prosecutor and detective conspired to commit perjury.

Why haven't the prosecutor and detective faced criminal prosecution?  

As part of the divorce settlement, Tina and Detective (yes, he's still a detective) Richard McKinley received over $600,000.  Why haven't they been prosecuted for theft? 

Why haven't the unethical prosecutors been disbarred?  Jill Kanatzar is now a highly-paid partner at Dollar, Burns & Becker.  Her husband is now the Jackson County District Attorney.   Detective Richard McKinley remains a highly-paid member of the Lee's Summit Police Department.

While an innocent man was being raped for a crime that police and prosecutors framed him of, those same police and prosecutors received pay raises and promotions.  They aren't even responsible for paying the verdict that Mr. White ultimately received.  Instead, Lee's Summit taxpayers are footing the bill:

The city of Lee’s Summit settled its part of the case in 2006 by agreeing to cover any judgments against McKinley after its insurance carriers had paid. Mayor Karen Messerli said the city could be paying a substantial sum from taxpayer’s dollars.

Taxpayers had nothing to do with the man's wrongful conviction.  Tina McKinley, Jennifer Mettler, Jill Kanatzar, and Detective Richard McKinley had everything to do with the conviction.  Nevertheless, those who are most responsible are being held the least accountable.  In what world does it make sense to punish those least responsible, while rewarding those most responsible?

Interestingly, the panel's 2008 opinion did not identify the unethical prosecutors by name.  Instead, the panel referred to "the prosecutor."  A person looking for information about Jennifer Mettler and Jill Kanatzar would thus not discover that they are unethical prosecutors who helped conspire to frame an innocent man for child molestation.  

The panel's 2010 opinion, however, identified the unethical prosecutors by name.  Thank you, your honors, for taking a step towards holding prosecutors accountable.

In a just world, the unethical prosecutor would be disbarred and prosecuted.  In the unjust world we live in, prosecutors who violate the law should at least be identified by name in the Federal Reporter.

My only request is that you forward a copy of your opinion to the Missouri Bar Association.  I'd do it myself, but suspect that my report would be treated with less gravitas than yours:

The Missouri Bar 

PO Box 119 

Jefferson City, MO 65102 

Phone: 573-635-4128 | FAX: 573-635-2811

No amount of money will give Mr. White his life back. Contacting the State Bar will ensure that Jennifer Mettler and Jill Kanatzar are never again allowed to abuse their law licenses.


White v. McKinley: Must-Read Case of the Year

There is so much going on in Thomas J. White, Jr. v. Detective Richard McKinley (CA8) (here) that writing a post is a struggle. In White v. McKinley, a wife falsely accused her husband of child molestation. The cop she was dating withheld evidence exonerating the husband. At least two prosecutors (Jennifer Mettler and Jill Kanatzar) knew that the cop was having sex with the wife, but didn't disclose this information to the defense.

And I'm only on page 5!  Read this case.

The case gets more disturbing on each page:

White was tried three times in Missouri state courts for the alleged molestationof Jami. At his first trial, the jury convicted White of 12 counts of sexual molestation.

"White learned after the verdict that Tina White and the chief investigator of the alleged crime [McKinley] had been engaged in a romantic relationship. White also learned that the prosecution knew about the relationship for approximately one year but failed to disclose the information to the defense." State v.White, 81 S.W.3d 561, 566 (Mo. Ct. App. 2002).

The Court of Appeals reversed.  White was re-tried:.  

White's second trial resulted in a hung jury—11 jurors in favor of acquittal and one in favor of conviction. 

After violating the law and getting a vote of 11-1 against them, the prosecutors did not seek justice by dismissing charges against White - who remained in prison during the re-trial.  Instead:

At his third criminal trial, in January or February 2005, White was acquitted. Having remained incarcerated post-appeal and throughout the second and third trials, White was released from custody in February 2005.

White spent five years in prison for a crime he didn't commit.  How many times was he raped in prison?  The opinion doesn't say, but a Missouri businessman's time in state prison as a convicted child molester is a house of horrors that even envisioning is too terrifying for civilized people.

Post-script

Detective Richard McKinley remains a police officer in Lee's Summit.  Framing a man apparently doesn't get one fired from the Lee's Summit Police Department. 

What happened to the prosecutors who ruined this man's life?  Don't prosecutors swear an Oath to uphold the law?  What happens when a prosecutor violates that oath, leading to a man's wrongful imprisonment?

Kanatzar is in private practice with Dollar, Burns & Becker, where she is a partner.  Her husband, James Kanatzar is now the Jackson County District Attorney.  Incest is best.  

I am still researching Jennifer Mettler.  If you know where she is, let me know.

The Eighth Circuit did justice in the case by identifying the prosecutors by name.  Thank you Judges Smith, Colloton, and Kornmann (sitting by designation) for not allowing these prosecutors to remain anonymous.  The father and husband whose life was ruined has had his name in the public record.  So, too, should the prosecutors who ruined his life be known to the world.