August 14, 2008

Mutchler Bound Over to Circuit Court For Murder Arraignment

In a rather tense setting unlike the normally relaxed Scotland County courthouse atmosphere, Judge Karl DeMarce found probable cause that felony murder and armed criminal action had been committed and that defendant Michael J. Mutchler, had committed the felonies.

Mutchler, 21, of Memphis, appeared before Judge DeMarce at the preliminary hearing on August 8th. Several spectators viewed the hearing, including members of the victimís family, but not before they passed through a security check by law enforcement officials.

Entrance to the courthouse was limited to one doorway to allow officers to insure the safety of the proceeding by checking all individuals entering the facility prior to the hearing.

Scotland County Prosecuting Attorney Kimberly Nicoli and special prosecuting attorney Kevin Zoellner of the Missouri Attorney Generalís Office called two witnesses during the hearing.

Scotland County Coroner Ginny Monroe testified she was called to a residence in rural Scotland County regarding a shooting death. She pronounced Joseph Alvey, 33, of Wyaconda, dead at the scene of the incident at 1:50 a.m. on June 8th.

Monroe testified that an autopsy was performed later that day in Columbia. The medical review revealed that Alvey had suffered four gunshot wounds, one of which had struck him in the rear right shoulder. That bullet perforated his aorta, causing him to bleed to death internally.

The second and final witness was Russell Lee Heck, who resided at the home where the shooting took place.

Heck testified that the shooting occurred following an altercation at his home, where Mutchler had also been residing since earlier in the summer.

Heck testified that he had gone to bed after two house guests had departed his home after socializing with himself, his wife and Mutchler.

He indicated he was awakened by Mutchler regarding an altercation outside his home. Heck stated he exited the home with a pistol and fired a shot in the air after reportedly finding Alvey on top of a female who was screaming for help.

The testimony indicated verbal confrontations then ensued between Heck and Alvey and Mutchler and Alvey.

Heck said he returned to the home and left his pistol, replacing it with a wooden stick, which he testified he brandished in an effort to prevent Alvey from entering the home.

He testified that Alvey then returned to the yard and attempted to retrieve his car keys from his girlfriend. Heck testified at this time that Mutchler, who had re-entered the home following the initial altercation, reappeared, brandishing a Rueger 10-22 rifle that he fired several shots from at Alvey.

Heck testified that he determined Alvey was dead, and after discussing the situation, the involved parties agreed to contact law enforcement and indicate the shooting had been done in self defense.

Mutchler, Heck, and the two females present during the incident initially indicated the shooting had occurred after Alvey had reached for Heckís gun. But Heck testified that a week after the incident that he met with investigators to confess the truth, changing his statement.

Defense Attorney Andrew Farwell did not present any evidence or call any witnesses at the hearing.

Farwell presented a motion for bond reduction, which was opposed by the prosecution.

Judge DeMarce overruled the motion, maintaining the $1 million cash only bond for Mutchler.

The case was bound over the First Circuit Court where Judge Gary Dial will officially arraign Mutchler at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, September 3rd.

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