A retired Lebanon attorney has been bound over for trial on three felony charges of tampering with a witness.
The Missouri Attorney General's office is helping in the prosecution of James E. Baldwin in connection to a 2003 statutory sodomy case involving Kevin Sinclair (b.)
Prosecutors say that Baldwin allegedly offered money and threatened the victims and the victims mother in Sinclair's case. Sinclairs father, Phillip, is also facing witness tampering charges related to the case.
Kevin Sinclair pleaded guilty to charges of second-degree sodomy in 2007 and was sentenced to five years in prison.
A probable cause statement written by Missouri State Highway Patrol investigator Sgt. H.J. Folsom says that the patrol was contacted by the Attorney General’s Office in September 2007 and asked to help investigate possible witness tampering.
The victim's mother told investigators that she was first contacted by the father of Kevin Sinclair who asked her to recant her testimony and that he would, "make it worth my while."
Phillip Sinclair then told the woman she would be receiving a letter from Baldwin explaining what she would need to do, wrote Folsom. Authorities say that Baldwin wrote a letter to the victim’s mother on July 27, 2007, asking her to recant her previous testimony in Kevin Sinclair's sodomy case, "if she received immunity from prosecution for perjury."
In the letter, which is part of the probable cause statement, Baldwin told the woman it would be “financially advantageous” for her to recant her testimony...."in the event that we agree upon a figure, same would be placed in escrow to be delivered to you upon the recanting of your testimony,” Baldwin wrote.
On Aug. 24, 2007, the victim in the sodomy case received a letter from Baldwin that told her that in order to avoid a new trial for Kevin Sinclair and “dirty laundry being aired in public, such as your known drug abuse, your testimony can be recanted (disavowed).” That letter also indicated the victim would only have to recant her testimony if she received immunity from prosecutors.
An undercover highway patrol officer, who posed as the victim's mother, met with Baldwin on Oct. 16, 2007. During that meeting, Baldwin allegedly offered to pay the woman $700 and said he would speak to an unnamed party about paying more than what she wanted, Folsom wrote in the statement.
Baldwin was a partner in Donnelly, Baldwin, Wilhite & Mebruer, PC, at the time of the alleged offenses. He retired in December 2007.
Assistant Missouri Attorney General Ted Bruce has been appointed special prosecutor in the case, and Barton County Associate Circuit Judge Charles Curless has been assigned by the Missouri Supreme Court to hear the case after LaClede County judges recused themselves because they handled Baldwin's cases.
08LA-CR01446-01 - ST V JAMES E BALDWIN
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