The Missouri state trooper accused of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Brandon Ellingson at the Lake of the Ozarks is set to face a jury this summer.
Trooper Anthony Piercy will go on trial July 10. Piercy has been on administrative leave without pay since charges were filed in December.
Judge Roger Martin Prokes of the 4th Judicial Circuit in northwest Missouri set the trial date during a Monday afternoon hearing in Morgan County. Prokes received the case after the previous judge, Stan Moore of Lebanon, recused himself on Nov. 7.
Prokes is the third judge named in the case. Special Prosecutor William Camm Seay requested a change of judge in March because the judge assigned then, Kenneth Hayden, is from Versailles, the same small town where Piercy was on the school board.
The new trial date comes one week after the state of Missouri agreed in a civil case to pay $9 million to the family of Ellingson, who drowned in handcuffs on May 31, 2014, while in Piercy’s custody. The trooper had pulled over the 20-year-old from Clive, Iowa, on suspicion of boating while intoxicated and handcuffed Ellingson before transporting him to a field office for a sobriety test.
During the transport, where Piercy traveled at speeds of up to 46 mph, Ellingson was ejected from the boat. The life vest, which the trooper didn’t properly secure on the Iowa man, soon came off. Piercy eventually jumped in the water but was unable to save Ellingson.
More than a year after a coroner’s inquest ruled the death accidental in September 2014, Seay filed the Class C felony charge against Piercy. The possible punishment includes up to seven years in prison, up to a year in the county jail, a $5,000 fine or some combination.
For more stories on The Star’s investigation into Ellingson’s death, click here.