Prosecutors granted continuance in Doisy case

Friday, December 11, 2009 | 6:15 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Johnny Wright showed up.

Wright, the 65-year-old accused of killing Becky Doisy in 1976, appeared in the Boone County Courthouse Friday afternoon for his preliminary hearing after posting $10,000 cash for bond Nov. 6. He had been arrested in a Lawrenceville, Ga., police station after he filed a background check as part of a job application.

Wright, wearing glasses, a dark tweed blazer and a pair of slacks, sat quietly in the front row of Associate Circuit Judge Christine Carpenter's courtroom as he waited for his turn in the docket.

But little happened. Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Richard Hicks asked for and was granted a continuance in the case, saying investigators were still trying to locate witnesses. And then, as soon as the hearing was over, Wright put on a coat and a hat, jogged up the stairs outside the courtroom, and was gone.

Cleveland Tyson — the St. Louis attorney who represents Wright — said that unless prosecutors are ready to proceed by Wright's next court date, Feb. 5, he would ask for a dismissal.

"Johnny wants to get this over with one way or another," Tyson said. He said Wright and his family — who Tyson said had also come to Columbia for the hearing — were trying to stay away from the media. Tyson had said in an earlier interview that family would help Wright travel from Georgia for his hearings in Columbia.

Hicks declined to comment on reports that Wright had been living under an assumed name. Hicks also said he would determine before Feb. 5 whether to convene a grand jury to indict Wright.

The prosecution faces an uphill climb in the case against Wright. It isn't clear that there is any physical evidence Doisy was murdered — or is even dead — because her body was never found. The prosecution’s key witness, Harry Moore, stated to police that he saw Doisy's body in Wright's car only after he had been charged in connection with the crime nine years following Doisy's disappearance.

Hicks indicated in a previous interview with the Missourian that the evidence in 1985 was similar to the prosecution's evidence today, which was likely the reason Wright's $100,000 bond was not adjusted after a bond investigation in November.

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