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Pages missing from witness statement in Marion raids, according to witness

Kari Newell statement blurred copy.jpg
Posted at 5:59 PM, Oct 04, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-04 23:26:48-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A witness statement used as evidence to raid the Marion County Record newspaper is missing pages, according to the witness.

On Sept. 25, through a Kansas Open Records Act (KORA) request, the I-Team received a witness statement Kari Newell provided to former Marion Police Chief Gideon Cody.

According to Cody's affidavit, Newell provided him with "a written statement of events" on Aug. 9 — two days before the raids.

The documents provided to the I-Team only include a conversation Newell claims she had with the owner of the newspaper.

The I-Team gave Newell a copy of the statement and she noticed the discrepancy.

"When you sent it to me, I noticed, 'Oh my God, pages are missing,'" Newell said. "Half of my statement is gone."

Jennifer Hill, who was hired by the city of Marion's insurance company to represent the city and Cody following the raids, is currently the custodian of records for the city, which means all requests for records must go through her.

When the I-Team informed Hill she provided a record that seems to be incomplete, Hill responded, "That was the scanned document I was provided."

Hill refused to say who provided the record to her.

Hill asked what pages were missing and later told the I-Team she interviewed Newell to find out more about the statement she wrote.

The statement provided to the I-Team from Hill appears to start in the middle of a series of events.

"Nobody starts off their statements like that," Newell said.

In her full statement, Newell said she detailed a city council meeting where Newell accused the paper and a council member of committing a crime against her.

Newell said she also detailed her discussions with the former police chief leading up to the raids.

None of those details are included in the record provided to the I-Team.

You've got a pattern of conduct that seems to be covering up things.

Since the raids, the I-Team has revealed several discrepancies in Cody's process and that of other officials involved in the raids.

Judge Steve Leben, professor of Law at University of Missouri-Kansas City has reviewed records himself in this case.

"You've got a pattern of conduct that seems to be covering up things," Leben said.

The I-Team first reported police evidence lists didn't match up.

The evidence list provided to the court and the list provided to the newspaper's attorney, which detailed items seized in the raids, did not match.

Police downloaded computer information from the newsroom to a hard drive and kept it after the courts ordered the items be returned.

The hard drive was included on the court's evidence list but left off of the one provided to the newspaper's attorney.

"The failure to list the hard drive was important because it signaled they actually kept a copy of records that they were not supposed to be keeping," Leben said.

Leben said the discrepancy appeared to be intentional.

On Thursday, the I-Team also reported allegations the chief directed Newell to delete text messages.

When it comes to Newell's written statement, the chain of custody is not known.

Newell said she gave the statement to one of Cody's police officers.

The statement, written on yellow paper from Newell's personal note pad, was her only copy.

However, Newell did say she asked Cody for a duplicate.

"It was told to me that it was now evidence and I could not do that," Newell said.

On Sept. 27, the I-Team followed up with the city's attorney about the rest of the statement.

In email, Hill responded, "We are still trying to find."

On Wednesday, Hill apologized to the I-Team and said she hopes to have an update on the statement by the end of the week.