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Prosecutor to try case with new ‘vulnerable person’ law

By JoEllen Black/Richmond News

Ray County will likely be one of the first county prosecutor’s offices in the state to try a case based on new law that aids the vulnerable.

Known as a “491 hearing” among the legal community, state statute 491.075 allows persons to testify in court on information learned from a child under age 14 that relates to a crime. Recently, the statute added another group to the hearsay exception, “a vulnerable person.”

In December, a hearing in Eighth Circuit Court began the process of determining whether a 33-year-old Richmond woman is considered a vulnerable person. Ray County Prosecutor Danielle Rogers called medical personnel and law enforcement to testify about what the woman told them after an alleged rape July 11, 2011 behind Davis’ Corner, a defunct nightclub in Richmond.

David Ellison, 29, of Excelsior Springs was charged with forcible sodomy, an unclassified felony. The alleged victim told police in her interview she has a “low functioning” mental capacity and had difficulty explaining to Ellison why she didn’t want to have sex.

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