Jean Peters Baker | KCUR

Jean Peters Baker

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

A Jackson County judge ruled Friday night that control of the violence prevention group COMBAT will fall to the county prosecutor -- a ruling that makes official what the county legislature first attempted to do last year.

In a statement, Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said she was pleased with the ruling, which she hopes will mark the end of a "lack of certainty in recent months" that has "been difficult for COMBAT administration, grantees and the public."

Updated at 5:15 p.m. June 8 with comments from Jean Peters Baker — A special prosecutor has decided not to charge former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens in connection with an affair he had before he became governor.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker, in a strongly worded letter to county legislators, called on them to move administration of the downtown jail from the county executive to the sheriff's office. In the letter, she said the jail is a "stubborn problem" and "it remains one of the most serious problems facing this County."

To help make her case she brought along three members of the county grand jury that wrote a scathing report on the jail, saying it was unsafe, filthy and fiscally mismanaged.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

On a bitter cold January day in 2014, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker met a crowd of cameras, microphones and shouting reporters on the steps of the Nodaway County Courthouse in Maryville, Missouri.

The story had been raging for months about why a hometown football player had been charged with raping an underage girl – and why charges were mysteriously dropped – in a case that made international headlines.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

This story was updated at 4:15 p.m. May 12, 2018, with a felony charge against Jackson County corrections officer.

A grand jury tasked with reviewing the Jackson County Detention Center says the jail's management and the county's administration is responsible for the "systemic failure to address its well-documented problems."

The findings were released Friday in a highly critical, 72-page report detailing chronic issues at the jail of overcrowding, understaffing and poor management of funds. It also recommends measures to better track progress of changes.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Update, May 8 5:20 p.m.:

The Jackson County Legislature approved the proposed changes 6-3 Monday.

The changes will appear on the August primary ballot.

The original post continues below.

When Jackson County legislators convene Monday afternoon, they'll be taking the first step into determining their own future.

At that meeting, legislator Greg Grounds, who represents much of eastern Jackson County and is one of two Republicans in the county legislature, will introduce a controversial plan to change the county charter. 

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: How Jackson County leaders are handling political and personal controversies, and rising crime rates.

Jackson County Detention Center

 Editor's note: This story was updated at 4:50 p.m. with additional details.

Nearly six months after the brazen shooting of a Kansas City attorney at his front door, Jackson County prosecutors on Wednesday charged the 80-year-old man who had long been suspected of the crime.

David Jungerman was charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the death of Thomas Pickert, who was shot in front of his Brookside home in October 2017, just moments after walking his children to school.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

Prosecutors on both sides of the state line that runs through Kansas City announced homicide and other charges Wednesday against a 30-year-old man who had walked free last year after two mistrials on a different murder charge.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker says gun violence survivors don't just fall through the cracks.

"They're not cracks. They're gaping holes in our criminal justice system," she says.

That's why Baker, along with the AdHoc Group Against Crime and Jackson County COMBAT, has launched a new program called Caring for Crime Survivors.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

In the fight between the Jackson County Legislature and County Executive Frank White score one, at least for now, for lawmakers.

In a two-page ruling, Circuit Judge George Wolf made it clear that White and the county executive's office is to stay out of "the day-to-day supervision of the administration of the COMBAT tax and COMBAT Commission."

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

The Jackson County jail is a mess. It’s overcrowded, understaffed and from elevators to toilets, there's a lot that’s broken.

Everyone agrees with that. But how to fix it is complicated and fraught with politics.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

This story was updated at 8:10 pm Tuesday with a statement from County Executive Frank White. 

A judge will decide who controls Jackson County's anti-drug program known as COMBAT after county legislator's filed a lawsuit.

For weeks, the Jackson County Legislature has been in a pitched fight with County Executive Frank White over who calls the shots for the $19 million program — White or Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The first part of the regular Monday meeting of the Jackson County Legislature was perfunctory, nothing but routine county business.

By the end voices had been raised, the county's lawyer was pacing and it appeared the Legislature and County Executive were going to court to settle who controls the anti-drug program known as COMBAT.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

The Jackson County Legislature had a full agenda Tuesday morning but, once again, problems at the downtown jail dominated the session. After an hour of grilling County Executive Frank White, legislators decided to punt on other work before them.

The focus of several legislators was on the task force recently named by White. The Legislature once again said another task force is a waste of time. The time to act, a majority said, is now.

Jackson County Jail
Jackson County Prosecutor

In a curt and strongly-worded letter, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker announced Monday that she refused her seat on a new jail task force established by County Executive Frank White.

The recent brutal assault of a corrections officer made her change her mind about serving on the task force, Baker wrote, and it’s “clear that action is required immediately” on the embattled jail.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

A guard at the Jackson County jail is in critical condition after he was allegedly attacked while on duty, according to court documents.

The unidentified guard was allegedly attacked by 20-year-old Johnny R. Dunlap. Dunlap was charged with first degree assault and armed criminal action and faces up to life in prison if convicted, according to Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Amidst mounting tensions over ongoing issues at the Jackson County Detention Center, County Executive Frank White, Jr. announced a new Jail Task Force to determine what steps to take to fix these issues, which include overcrowding and understaffing. 

Danny Wood / KCUR 89.3

Jackson County prosecutors have dismissed a case against a man accused of raping a University of Missouri-Kansas City student after she was allegedly carried unconscious through the lobby of a campus dormitory.

Jackson County Prosecutor's Office

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker and  Sheriff Mike Sharp called a news conference Wednesday to say four inmates in the county jail had been charged with assaulting a corrections officer.

But the news conference turned into the two top law enforcement officials in Jackson County expressing their ongoing frustration with a string of problems at the jail. “Everything is a concern at this point. The whole thing is a concern,” says Baker. “We’re fed up with each of our weeks here at the county being filled with the jail as a problem.”

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker, with the victim's grieving mother at her side, said Monday that a man has been charged with the murder of a 24-year-old east Kansas City woman.

Ashley Geddes was discovered dead in her bedroom by her mother on June 1.

The suspect is 25-year-old Cedrick Russell, who lived next door to the victim on east 45th Place. Russell is also charged with sodomy, burglary, stealing and other offenses.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

"This is my momma's house. I ain't movin.'"

This shout rang out amidst a press conference on the 4300 block of Forest Avenue Wednesday afternoon, right after Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker delivered a warning letter.

The warning comes after Baker's office announced they found evidence of 210 shots fired around the property since February 2016. 

"This is not a shooting range, this is a neighborhood," Baker said, after relocating a few houses away from the house in question, as residents aired their concerns about protecting their property.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Jean Peters Baker's work doesn't end when she steps out of the Jackson County Courthouse. In fact, the county's top prosecutor recently hosted a cleanup event on the 2300 block of Denver Avenue in Kansas City to reduce blight and fight crime. She speaks about that, and about the work of Mayor Sly James' Citizens Task Force on Violence. Then, the only business school professor ever named a MacArthur Fellow tells us why he thinks fixing income inequality in America requires increasing the number of college graduates.

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

Independence police officer Thomas Wagstaff, who was shot in the head during a robbery Wednesday, may have been hit accidentally by another police officer. 

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker lays blame for Wednesday’s shooting squarely on the men charged with the robbery. Ronar Santiago-Torres and Joseph Wyatt and their alleged accomplices Donald Nussbaum and James McChan face charges in the the robbery at 36th and Delaware in Independence.

“I hold them hold them accountable in every possible way for his injuries, and I will continue to do so,” says Peters Baker.

File photo

Facing a rise in police excessive force cases often gone viral on social media, a national group of prosecutors issued a “guidance document” Friday designed to help law enforcement work in a more public and proactive manner.

Led by Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker, the report by the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys urges local and regional agencies to be more transparent, quickly respond to a scene and create written internal protocols.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Pastor Adam Carter is standing next to a single white cross in the front lawn of the Leawood Baptist Church on State Line Road. For the final weeks of the year, the lawn was a sea of white crosses, each representing a homicide victim. The visual, he says, would stop you in your tracks.

"Each cross wasn't just a piece of wood, it represented a human life," Carter says. "So when you look at it from that perspective, it was extremely overwhelming."

Eva Wilson / Leawood Baptist Church

Kansas City recently hit a milestone: 2016 saw the highest number of homicides in the past 10 years. What's going on in the metro? A look at what each death means for KC and its children.

Guests:

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon came to Kansas City Wednesday to sign legislation strengthening laws against human trafficking.

“We tend to think of human trafficking as something that happens in a distant, undeveloped country,” Nixon said. “But the tragic reality is, right here in the United States, human trafficking is a real and growing problem.”

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker doesn’t think victims and first responders should lose their right to privacy just because they’re witnesses in criminal proceedings.

Baker filed a friend-of-the-court brief Tuesday firing back at a St. Louis judge who in several cases has ordered the City Circuit Attorney there to disclose the home addresses of crime victims and law enforcement officers scheduled to testify in court.

“We're not trying to hide them,” Baker says. “But what we are trying to do is balance their privacy right against our system of justice.”

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The father of a toddler who died last week after accidentally shooting herself with his gun has been charged with second degree murder, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker announced Wednesday.

Courtenay Block, 24, told police he was sleeping when his 2-year-old daughter shot herself in the head April 21.

“Children are not responsible for their own safety,” Baker said at a news conference. “That’s our job. Your job and mine.”

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