Sunday, November 05, 2006

Elect Bob Lawson Jr. Circuit Judge, Cir. 31, Div. 5

Vote Against Judge Calvin Holden!

Manslaughter case ends with stunning verdict

Springfield News-Leader
April 19, 2006

It was with great dismay and utter incredulity that I read of the verdict Judge Calvin Holden handed down in the involuntary manslaughter trial of Grant Marsh. ("Motorist acquitted of manslaughter," April 8 News-Leader) Marsh was charged with manslaughter and leaving the scene of an accident in the Nov. 20, 2003 death of Rita M. Clark. My family and Rita's family have been friends for many years and by a horrific twist of fate, the tragedy that took Rita's life happened right beside my home. I will never forget the events of that night.

I attended the bench trial in its entirety and heard all the testimony. The evidence the two experts offered on accident re-construction was complicated and involved the use of two different formulas to calculate the rate of speed that Marsh's vehicle had been traveling. But both prosecution and defense witnesses estimated that Marsh was traveling around 40 mph in a 25 mph zone.

The News-Leader article stated that Judge Holden based his ruling of acquittal on his interpretation "that falling asleep at the wheel does not rise to the level of manslaughter." Marsh was the only witness to testify that he fell asleep at the wheel. Since I live several yards from where Marsh claimed to have fallen asleep, it never made sense to me that he could negotiate a 90-degree turn with his van, turning from one street to another while dozing. But that was his claim. If falling asleep at the wheel doesn't rise to the level of manslaughter, then reckless driving on the wrong side of the road while speeding should have raised
that level considerably.

As I sat through the two-day trial, I was confounded by the fact that Grant Marsh's three young daughters were in constant attendance. His defense attorney repeatedly referenced Marsh's loving regard in caring for his family. As I listened to testimony given by police officers about the blood, hair and brain matter they found embedded in Marsh's windshield after the accident, it seemed to me that a caring father would not want his young girls to hear such grisly details. I wondered if the girls' presence was meant to impress upon the judge how much Marsh was needed at home. Now that Marsh has been acquitted of manslaughter
and will not be held accountable for his actions, his daughters can continue to have the benefit of their father's presence. But for Bill Clark, family and friends, there will be no just resolution for the absence of Rita's presence.

Linda Green, of Battlefield, is the retired director of the Springfield-Greene County History Museum.

Copyright (c) Springfield News-Leader. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Gannett Co., Inc. by NewsBank, inc.

This story was about my Aunt Rita, My mothers sister.

Man gets probation in fatal crash

By Melissa DeLoach
News-Leader May 17, 2006

Bill Clark didn't show up in court Tuesday for the sentencing of the man who struck and killed his wife and dog while they were on an evening stroll in 2003. He didn't show up, his sister-in-law said, because he disagreed with the decision by a Greene County judge last month to acquit Grant Marsh of involuntary manslaughter, finding him guilty only of leaving the scene of the accident. Clark's sister-in-law, Linda Hillenburg, said the news was devastating but nothing can bring back her sister, Rita.

Judge Calvin Holden sentenced Marsh to five years' probation and ordered him among other things to pay the family 10 percent of his wages during the length of his punishment. Holden last month acquitted Marsh of involuntary manslaughter following a December bench trial, ruling that falling asleep at the wheel does not rise to the level of manslaughter.

"We don't hate Mr. Marsh," Hillenburg said during a victim impact statement. "I just hope he realizes he has to live with this for the rest of his life. "He took a life." Rita M. Clark, 56, was walking with her husband and their dog in their Battlefield neighborhood on Nov. 20, 2003, when she was hit from behind by a Chevrolet van traveling on the wrong side of the road. The driver, later identified as Marsh, had just made a turn onto Prairie View Road, where the accident occurred. Marsh returned to the scene a short time later and spoke to authorities. Bill Clark was not injured. The dog, also hit, was later euthanized.

Marsh, who said he thought he at first had hit a mailbox, apologized to the family. Not a day goes by when he doesn't recount the night's events, he said. "I never knew I hit her," he said. "I've heard nothing but sweet things about her. I wish I could replace her." Under terms of a plea agreement, Holden also ordered Marsh to attend a victim impact panel and limited his driving privileges to emergencies and work.
If he violates terms of his probation, Marsh would be sent to the Missouri Department of Corrections for four years, the maximum for the class D felony of leaving the scene of an accident.

Copyright (c) Springfield News-Leader. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Gannett Co., Inc. by NewsBank, inc.

I realize that I am biased in this case...since I am family. But I would respectfully ask that you seriously consider voting agianst Judge Calvin Holden. He is an example of what is wrong with many democratic oriented "soft" judges. If you go here you can see where this judgement has come under national scrutiny for leanient sentencing. If you go here (and type in Grant, first name & Marsh, last name) you can see where the defendant in this case (Grant Marsh) despite what he may say in the above newspaper articles, and despite what Judge Holden told him in the courtroom, you can see where he has since again been ticketed for Driving Under the Influence involving an accident and you may also notice that one of those cases was even BEFORE he went on trial for killing my aunt. But the Judge would not allow that information into the courtroom. Judges are free to make their own judgements, and we are free to vote them out of office for it.

Vote FOR Bob Lawson Jr. on Tuesday Nov. 7th

...and alway remember this when choosing elected officials.

The Party turns the individual...the individual NEVER turns the party.


Cindy said...

I'm so sorry about the loss of your aunt! Thanks for sharing this story at this time. It does make a difference to me and I will be voting against Holden!

Anonymous said...

Mark I am so glad you posted this. Jon and I are in Atlanta GA tonight and head back for Springfield in the morning. We are making sure we are home in time to vote. Thank you for taking the time to post this issue on your ever so popular blog. I hope people will respond.

Rog said...

This guy needs to find a new line of work... Every vote counts and some more than once... Bye, Bye Holden...

Anonymous said...


You are correct we need to vote for Lawson. He is CSI's corp atty and a good Christian man. Matter of fact, I talked with him last week about his campaign and he was a little nervous about voter turnout so make sure all you Greene County bloggers get out to vote tomorrow!