A former prosecutor in St. Louis, Missouri confessed in open federal court on Monday to ignoring information about a cop’s brutal beating of a man who was restrained in handcuffs, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
During an appearance before U.S. District Judge Henry Autrey, the lawyer, Bliss Barber Worrell, 28, pleaded guilty to felony misprision for her role in the corrupt concealment last year. The term misprision relates to aiding someone in covering up a crime, the report says. She also confessed to filing a phony charge against the suspect after his beating, notes the news outlet.
The victim, Michael Waller, 41, was beaten last year by St. Louis detective Thomas Carroll, who arrested him on charges of stealing his daughter’s credit card.
Worrell resigned after details of the incident came to light and Carroll also reportedly resigned. Prosecutors eventually dropped the charges against Waller.
Judge Autrey, himself a former St. Louis prosecutor, said he normally does not make comments at a plea hearing. But he called Worrell’s actions “most distasteful” and said she left a “black mark on a very venerable office.”
Worrell’s former boss, Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, called it “the worst thing that’s happened to me in 20 years as a prosecutor.” She said an unspecified number of Worrell’s colleagues, who were aware of the incident and did not act appropriately, have left the office. “They were all gone as soon as we figured out what they did or failed to do,” Joyce said. It was not clear whether they were fired.
Joyce issued a statement Monday that says, in part, “While this matter remains under investigation, I have been informed by federal authorities that no other members of my office are implicated.”
Worrell, whose lawyer declined to comment to the publication, has been working in private practice, but a felony conviction could lead to the loss of her license, the report says.