By DAVID MARTIN
On Tuesday, Robert WitbolsFeugen, a former Jackson County legislative aide, pleaded not guilty to assaulting a sheriff's deputy.
WitbolsFeugen was arrested in April on suspicion of assault and resisting arrest. The charges stem from an incident at a county meeting. A disagreement over a new sign policy reportedly ended with three deputies pressing WitbolsFeugen against a wall.
WitbolsFeugen is a longtime critic of the way county officials conduct business. He filed a complaint against a sheriff's deputy who investigated his daughter's 1997 murder. For a brief and tumultuous time, he served as an aide to former Legislator Robert Stringfield. In 2005, Stringfield accused his colleagues of violating the state's Sunshine Law by discussing WitbolsFeugen's hiring in a closed meeting. (Stringfield later dropped the suit and did not to seek reelection.)
As for the recent charge, WitbolsFeugen maintains his innocence. He expects to vindicated at trial, which is scheduled for September. "I've done everything I can possibly do as a citizen to maintain my rights," he said, standing outside the courthouse in Independence.
The mother of the man convicted of killing WitbolsFeugen's daughter, Anastasia, attended the hearing. WitbolsFeugen pressured investigators to move off their original theory that Anastasia died at the hands of her boyfriend, who committed suicide a day after her death. A friend of the boyfriend, Byron Case, was tried for the crime in 2002.
Evelyn Case says her son's conviction was unjust, and she holds WitbolsFeugen partly to blame. She wore a brown, long sleeve T-shirt to the arraignment embossed with the words "Free Byron Case."
"They needed a scapegoat," Case said. "They needed the case to be closed."