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Long-awaited I-70 expansion project begins near Columbia

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Long-awaited I-70 expansion project begins near Columbia





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Missouri

Missouri River 340 race makes its way through mid-Missouri

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Missouri River 340 race makes its way through mid-Missouri


The Missouri River 340 race also known as MR340 is a non-motorized boat race of over 400 teams participating that travel from Kansas City to St. Charles, Missouri. Participants paddle across the state in kayaks and canoes for a total of 340 miles in the Missouri River.
The race contains six checkpoints and six paddle stops, one of each in mid-Missouri. Checkpoint #4 is located in Jefferson City and the paddle stop is at Coopers landing in Columbia ahead of the Jefferson City checkpoint. Participants are not required to stop at any point in the race, but many do, the MR340 is considered to be the world’s largest non-stop river race.



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A Missouri prison again has ignored an order to free a wrongfully convicted inmate

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A Missouri prison again has ignored an order to free a wrongfully convicted inmate


ST. LOUIS — For the second time in weeks, a Missouri prison has ignored a court order to release an inmate whose murder conviction was overturned. Just as in the case of Sandra Hemme, actions by the state’s attorney general are keeping Christopher Dunn locked up.

St. Louis Circuit Judge Jason Sengheiser on Monday tossed out Dunn’s conviction for a 1990 killing. Dunn, 52, has spent 33 years behind bars, and he remained Tuesday at the state prison in Licking. “The State of Missouri shall immediately discharge Christopher Dunn from its custody,” Sengheiser’s ruling states.

Dunn wasn’t released after his conviction was overturned because Republican Attorney General Andrew Bailey appealed the judge’s ruling, “and we’re awaiting the outcome of that legal action,” Missouri Department of Corrections spokeswoman Karen Pojmann said in an email Tuesday.

The decision to keep Dunn incarcerated puzzled St. Louis Circuit Attorney Gabe Gore, whose office investigated his case and determined he was wrongfully convicted, prompting a May hearing before Sengheiser.

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“In our view, the judge’s order was very clear, ordering his immediate release,” Gore said at a news conference Tuesday. “Based on that, we are considering what approach and what legal options we have to obtain Mr. Dunn’s relief.” He declined to specify what legal options were under consideration.

Bailey’s office didn’t respond to Tuesday messages seeking comment.

Dunn’s situation is similar to what happened to Hemme, 64, who spent 43 years in prison for the fatal stabbing of a woman in St. Joseph in 1980. A judge on June 14 cited evidence of “actual innocence” and overturned her conviction. She had been the longest-held wrongly incarcerated woman known in the U.S., according to the Midwest Innocence Project, which worked to free Hemme and Dunn.

But appeals by Bailey — all the way up to the Missouri Supreme Court — kept Hemme imprisoned at the Chillicothe Correctional Center. During a court hearing Friday, Judge Ryan Horsman said that if Hemme wasn’t released within hours, Bailey himself would have to appear in court with contempt of court on the table. She was released later that day.

The judge also scolded Bailey’s office for calling the Chillicothe warden and telling prison officials not to release Hemme after he ordered her to be freed on her own recognizance. It wasn’t clear if the attorney general’s office similarly called prison officials at the prison where Dunn is housed.

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Dunn’s wife, Kira, said they would hold off really celebrating until he’s out of prison.

“We are overjoyed, and at the same time, we’re also afraid to really exhale until Chris actually takes his first free steps and feels the free ground against his feet,” Kira Dunn said at the news conference. “When that happens, I think all these feelings we’ve been holding onto for so long will finally erupt.”

Dunn was convicted of first-degree murder in the 1990 shooting of 15-year-old Ricco Rogers. Gore filed a motion in February seeking to vacate the guilty verdict.

After weighing the case for nearly two months, Sengheiser issued a ruling that cited “a clear and convincing showing of ‘actual innocence’ that undermines the basis for Dunn’s convictions because in light of new evidence, no juror, acting reasonably, would have voted to find Dunn guilty of these crimes beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Lawyers for Bailey’s office said at the hearing that initial testimony from two boys at the scene who identified Dunn as the shooter was correct, even though they recanted as adults.

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A Missouri law adopted in 2021 lets prosecutors request hearings when they see evidence of a wrongful conviction. Although Bailey’s office is not required to oppose such efforts, he also did so at a hearing for Lamar Johnson, who spent 28 years in prison for murder. Another St. Louis judge ruled in February 2023 that Johnson was wrongfully convicted, and he was freed.

Another hearing begins Aug. 21 for death row inmate Marcellus Williams. Bailey’s office is opposing the challenge to Williams’ conviction, too.

The hearing comes with urgency. Williams is scheduled to be executed Sept. 24.

St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell filed a motion in January to vacate the conviction of Williams for the fatal stabbing of Lisha Gayle in 1998. Bell’s motion said three experts determined that Williams’ DNA was not on the handle of the butcher knife used in the killing.

Williams narrowly escaped execution before. In 2017, then-Gov. Eric Greitens granted a stay and appointed a board of inquiry to examine innocence claim. The board never issued a ruling, and Gov. Mike Parson, like Greitens a Republican, dissolved it last year.

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The Missouri Supreme Court ruled in June that Parson had the authority to dissolve the board and set the September execution date.

Copyright 2024 NPR





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Eagle County officials deny request for equestrian facility in Missouri Heights

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Eagle County officials deny request for equestrian facility in Missouri Heights


The Eagle County Commissioners rejected a special use permit for a commercial equestrian operation in Missouri Heights, bringing a monthslong community debate over the rural or residential character of the midvalley neighborhood to an end — for now.



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