Criminal Justice

Charges Dropped Against Mo. Attorney in Bludgeoning Death of Law Partner

Convicted in 2002 in a first-degree murder case concerning the beating death of his former law partner and sentenced to life, only to see the conviction reversed in 2006 over discovery violations, a Missouri attorney has now had the charges against him dismissed.

Richard Buchli had been set for retrial in the Jackson County case. However, a Nodaway County judge, to whom the case was transferred after Jackson County judges recused themselves, threw out the evidence. He determined that the state, despite a 10-year history of litigation, still had not provided complete discovery to the defense, the Kansas City Star recounts.

In December, the Missouri Court of Appeals upheld the sanction by Circuit Judge Roger Prokes and the Missouri Supreme Court recently refused to hear an appeal of that decision by the government. As a result, prosecutors said, they had no choice but to dismiss the charges against Buchli.

“We are happy the state has decided to dismiss the charges,” said Richard Johnson, one of Buchli’s attorneys. “I have no doubt about Richard’s innocence, and I’m glad the case has ended in his favor.”

Buchli himself is not commenting about the case, said Johnson, because murder has no statute of limitations and the state could, in theory, file a new case against him if new evidence emerges.

Richard Armitage, 49, was beaten to death in May 2000 in the law office he and Buchli shared in downtown Kansas City. A Crime Scene KC page links to coverage in the case between 2000 and 2005, including a May 2000 article that describes Armitage as an organ transplant law expert with a happy home life who was active in his college alumni affairs.

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