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Moberly Correctional Center Warden Rusty Ratliff faces contempt order for withholding release of manslaughter prisoner

15 Dec 2023, Jail News, by

Rusty Ratliff, the warden at Moberly Correctional Center, challenges a court’s release order for Charles Waddill, accused of manslaughter.

Moberly Correctional Center Warden Rusty Ratliff faces contempt order for withholding release of manslaughter prisoner - Inmate Lookup

Moberly Correctional Center warden Rusty Ratliff was instructed this week to show that he is not in contempt for failing to release a manslaughter prisoner on bond pending a new trial.

The Missouri Department of Corrections and court documents indicate that Charles Waddill, 54, of Harrisburg, is being held at the Moberly Correctional Center. Waddill pleaded guilty to first-degree involuntary manslaughter, fleeing the scene of the accident, and tampering with the evidence in the 2019 incident where a car killed a pedestrian on Columbia’s Range Line Street.

Despite receiving an 11-year prison sentence, Waddill appealed the decision in January 2022 at the Boone County Circuit Court. Judge Josh Devine ordered the conviction vacated and Waddill released from prison on the $100,000 bond he had previously posted on Nov. 15. Records show that another jury trial was subsequently ordered.

Since then, Rusty Ratliff, the warden at the Moberly Correctional Center, has contended in court that he could not release Waddill, arguing that Devine lacked jurisdiction to order Waddill’s immediate release. Rusty Ratliff deemed the order for the warden to “show cause” for not releasing Waddill “inappropriate” and “premature.”

On Dec. 4, an order was signed for Waddill’s release by presiding Judge Brouck Jacobs, but the warden resisted complying. Waddill’s attorney then requested that Jacobs hold the warden in contempt, leading to Jacobs instructing the warden to clarify his actions.

A hearing was scheduled for Wednesday morning. According to a report, Waddill’s attorney, James Wyrsch of Kansas City, declined to provide on-the-record comments about the case. Attorneys representing the state and county did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

The admission of guilt was retracted when the court acknowledged Waddill’s claims of purported denial of due process and inadequate legal representation. The court ruling asserts that there was a misinterpretation of the term “open” between Waddill’s lawyer, John Rogers, and Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Nicholas Komoroski during their discussions.

According to court records, Rogers believed that the term “open” implied a sentence not exceeding seven years and purportedly advised Waddill to decline any offer lacking a seven-year limitation. Waddill, informed by his attorneys both before and after entering the plea, understood that the plea agreement permitted withdrawal if the court did not endorse Komoroski’s recommendation.