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Kansas City Attorney Reviews Missouri AG’s Call to Reverse DeValkenaere’s Conviction

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — John Picerno said that in his 30 years working in the legal system, he’s never seen a state attorney general side with a criminal defendant, like Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey did on Monday.

Picerno, a Kansas City area defense attorney, is referring to a brief filed by Bailey where he called for former KCPD Det. Eric DeValkenaere’s conviction to be overturned or a new trial be ordered.

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In November 2021, Jackson County Circuit Court Presiding Judge J. Dale Youngs found DeValkenaere guilty of second-degree involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action in the death of Cameron Lamb.

Not long after the conviction, DeValkenaere filed an appeal and was later allowed to remain free during the process.

“It’s very rare to see an attorney general back a criminal defendant; They are the leading attorney in the state,” Picerno said. “Ninety-nine point nine percent of the time they will always defend the state. I cannot recall of another instance where this has occurred in my 30 years.”

In the brief, Bailey argued that “the evidence credited by the trial court does not, as a matter of law, support the trial court’s findings of guilt, the Court should reverse DeValkenaere’s convictions and order him discharged or order a new trial.”

Picerno said that Bailey’s action could further tarnish the public’s confidence in law enforcement.

“We have an appellate process for a reason, certainly the attorney general could have sat out and waited,” Picerno said. “It is a legitimate concern about whether or not the law underlined the conviction is good law, and that’s what our appellate courts are for. For him to undermine circumvent the process, I think he’s undermining public confidence.”

In the brief, Bailey also said the evidence used to convict DeValkenaere was “insufficient” to prove he was guilty of involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action.

Ultimately, Picerno believes Bailey’s action was a political action.

“It appears that it’s more political grandstanding than it is actual law,” he said. “You say that based on the raw numbers on what ever percentile of cases there have been in the history of the state of Missouri for 150 years, how many times has this happened? It just smacks of politics.”

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