Appeals Court overturns 3 recent cases involving Faria judge

LINCOLN COUNTY, MO (KPLR) – An Appeals Court overturned three recent decisions by the same Missouri Judge.  You may remember this Judge from the Faria murder case. In November, Fox 2 revealed evidence that the Judge suppressed from a jury who later convicted the husband, Russ Faria.

Now Fox 2 has learned of three different cases where the prisons recently freed three people after an Appeal Court overruled this Judge.

The Missouri Court of Appeals issued what are called Writs of Prohibition against Lincoln County Judge Chris Kunza Mennemeyer – three orders this year involving different prisoners.

One of the men who fought Judge Kunza Mennemeyer`s decision was Ernest Kizer.

Kizer told me, ‘I would`ve been in there for eight years and I would`ve still been in there if it wasn`t for me going to the law library in prison and getting another lawyer to go ahead and fight this.’

Kizer pleaded guilty to dealing crack cocaine.  He says he agreed to go to drug treatment, which included a deal that he get out of prison on probation if he completed treatment.  He says he held up his end of the bargain.

Kizer explained, ‘I was under the impression that as long as I do what I was supposed to do, that a deal is a deal.’
Chris Hayes followed up, ‘You feel like she was changing the deal?’
Kizer answered, ‘Yeah, there`s no feel like, she did that.’

Kizer`s case is one of three handled by Judge Chris Kunza Mennemeyer, in which the Missouri Court of Appeals intervened.
Defense lawyer, Chet Pleban said that`s ‘extremely unusual. ‘  He added, ‘If they issue one Writ a month, throughout the entire Eastern District of Missouri, it would be a lot.  So for one Judge to pick up three writs of prohibition within a one month period is extraordinary.’

Pleban says defense attorneys first try telling the Judge about a mistake.  He said, ‘They don`t just run to the Court of Appeals.  Interestingly, in two of the three cases, I think it was the same prosecutor as it was in Russell Faria`s case.’

The Faria case involved a husband convicted of murdering his wife.  Judge Mennemeyer agreed to silence testimony about a woman who benefitted from the victim’s $150,000 life insurance policy.  Russ Faria’s defense attorney is now appealing the conviction.

Faria’s appeal won’t be impacted by the recent Writs.  Pleban says those orders came from three different cases that were each analyzed individually by the Appeals Court.

Pleban said, ‘In fairness to her, I`m sure that at the time that she thought she was doing the right thing, but for whatever reason she got it wrong and she got it wrong times three.’

Kizer added, ‘This may help somebody else so it doesn`t happen again. I`m not looking for anything out of it.  I just want to be able to just have the same rights everybody else should.’

Judge Chris Kunza Mennemeyer did not return my call. Her administrative assistant told me it was unlikely that she`d be permitted to talk under the law.

Murder victim Betsy Faria`s sister, Mary Rodgers, who sat through an entire trial with Judge Mennemeyer, defended her as fair and thoughtful.

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