Matthew Barnett, a young Maryville man once charged in a sexual assault case that has drawn international attention, now is represented by one of Kansas City’s top criminal defense lawyers.
J.R. Hobbs said Thursday that he hopes to begin working soon with the special prosecutor appointed to the case earlier this week, Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney Jean Peters Baker.
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“Our firm recently was retained to represent the young man under review,” Hobbs said.
Hobbs said that he is lead counsel and that Robert Sundell is local counsel.
Daisy Coleman claims she was sexually assaulted in January 2012, at age 14, by Barnett, then a high school senior in Maryville. Felony charges against two suspects were filed in the case but later dropped by Nodaway County Prosecutor Robert L. Rice. A misdemeanor charge also was dropped eventually.
Barnett later told investigators that the sex was consensual. He said he’d been aware that Daisy had been drinking but said she was only “buzzed,” not yet drunk, when the encounter took place.
After a Kansas City Star article on the case, interest in the incident spread across the globe.
Hobbs is recognized as one of the region’s top criminal defense lawyers and often is called into cases before charges are filed.
He represented former pharmacist Robert Courtney in his drug dilution case and, more recently, represented Hereford House arsonist Rodney Anderson and Bishop Robert Finn against misdemeanor charges that he failed to report the child pornography activities of the Rev. Shawn Ratigan.