Judge Tosses All Evidence in Trial of Lawyer Who Allegedly Murdered Partner


A northwest Missouri judge has ordered all evidence thrown out in a decade-old murder case in which a former Kansas City attorney is accused of beating his law partner to death in their downtown office.

Visiting Nodaway County Judge Roger Prokes filed a ruling late Wednesday excluding the evidence, saying Jackson County prosecutors had failed to provide Richard Buchli's attorneys with key information and evidence.

Judge Prokes' Order

Buchli, 60, was found guilty in 2002 of first-degree murder in the May 2000 beating death of 49-year-old Richard Armitage. A Jackson County judge overturned the conviction in 2006, though Buchli remained behind bars until being allowed to bond out in February 2008.

His new trial is scheduled to begin in January, but Prokes' ruling makes it unlikely Buchli can be convicted.

"If this order stands, the state cannot convict Mr. Buchli," Richard Johnson, one of Buchli's defense attorneys, told The Associated Press.

The Kansas City Star reported Prokes told prosecutors in June what they needed to provide to the defense, but prosecutors missed the July 20 deadline to comply.

Although some evidence was turned over at a hearing earlier this month, Prokes ruled it wasn't enough to comply with his June order.

Jackson County prosecutor James Kanatzar issued a statement Thursday opposing Prokes' ruling.

"We respectfully disagree with the court's ruling and plan to appeal on what we feel is an erroneous decision on an important case," he said in the statement. "Because we plan to appeal this ruling, we are precluded on commenting further on this matter."

In overturning Buchli's conviction in 2006, Jackson County Circuit Judge Sandra Midkiff ruled that prosecutors improperly withheld key evidence.

Buchli and a secretary found Armitage a few minutes after he was attacked, his skull shattered by nine blows from a blunt object. Armitage died two days later.

Defense attorneys repeatedly asked for full copies of the surveillance tape, but prosecutors and police led them to believe the footage was lost except for a one-hour section around the time of the slaying.

Midkiff found that authorities not only had the entire tape but also created a slowed and enhanced copy.

Police/Prosecutor Misconduct
Truth in Justice