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Witness in Carnahan trial describes poor evidence handling at Christian County Sheriff's Office

Springfield News-Leader (Missouri), BREAKING
BYLINE: Amos Bridges,

Christian County, MO

Clayton - Defense attorneys this afternoon called several witnesses who said they didn't see Gerald Carnahan's truck near the 7-Eleven in Nixa the night Jackie Johns disappeared in 1985.

They also questioned a man who said he saw three people standing around a car and truck on U.S. 160 that day, although his testimony indicated the sighting was about 5:30-6 p.m., much earlier in the evening than the 10-11 p.m. time frame when Johns last was seen.

Carnahan is charged with first-degree murder and rape.

The fourth witness called today, Rita Sanders, described deplorable evidence handling practices at the Christian County Sheriff's Office.

Sanders, a former Springfield police officer, worked as an investigator at the sheriff's office from 1994-1997.

Sanders said she saw about a dozen boxes labeled "Jackie Johns" kept in the sweltering property room at the sheriff's office in the old County Courthouse in Ozark.

She never looked in the boxes, she said, but said she at one point took photographs of some other evidence handling.

"I was very concerned about the lack of care for the evidence and the chain of custody and the possibility of tampering, so I did take photographs ...," she said.

Greene County Prosecutor Darrell Moore noted in cross examination that Sanders "had no idea" what was in the boxes.

Prosecutors and other witnesses have said critical physical evidence in the case was kept by Springfield police.

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