by Ivan Foley
The attorney for a Alabama man accused in an alleged sexual assault in Platte City nearly three years ago asked the judge to dismiss the case due to what he maintains is failure of the state to prosecute.
James Knight of Hillsboro, Ala., age 66 at the time, is accused of sexual assault in an incident that allegedly occurred in April of 2015 at the Platte City residence of a woman he had met at the Pool Hall in downtown Platte City earlier that night.
Sources have told The Landmark Knight is residing out of state as his case has lingered longer than what is normal in the court system.
Earlier Knight’s attorneys had told the court their client had volunteered to submit to DNA testing but that the state had never performed the test. The state then proceeded with DNA testing to be done in conjunction with authorities in the state in which Knight is residing.
At a court hearing on Thursday, Dec. 21, Dana Alteiri, Knight’s attorney, requested the case be dismissed “for want of prosecution.”
Arguments from counsel on both sides were then heard. Mark Gibson, top assistant prosecutor for Eric Zahnd, represented the prosecutor’s office.
The matter was then continued until Feb. 1. At the Feb. 1 hearing, the case is expected to be disposed, dismissed, or set for trial, according to court records.
Platte County Circuit Court Judge James Van Amburg is presiding over the matter.
Knight faces three felony charges in connection to an alleged assault against a Platte City woman.
Knight was arrested in Johnson County, Kan. after an investigation aided by tracking a cell phone number, authorities said.
Knight is charged with felony counts of sodomy, assault, and burglary in the incident. The burglary charge, according to documents, relates to Knight allegedly “remaining unlawfully in an inhabitable structure for the purpose of committing sodomy therein.”
The incident in question occurred the night of Saturday, April 11 into the early hours of Sunday, April 12, 2015.
According to court documents, the victim, described by authorities as being in her mid-50’s, was accompanied by friends to the Pool Hall on Main Street. The woman says while there a white male she described as 50-60 years old and 5’5” or shorter with dark gray hair and a beard approached her and they had a conversation. The man identified himself only as Fred.
The woman said she learned from their conversation the man resided in the Overland Park area. She said she decided to go home and drove to her residence in Platte City. She told authorities that after parking her car in her garage and stepping out of the vehicle, she realized the man was standing in the garage.
She told police she did not feel threatened by the man at that time and allowed him to follow her into the house.
She told police that once inside, the man hit her and choked her, dragged her to the bedroom, pulled off her clothing and attempted to sodomize her. She told police the man choked her by putting his arm across her throat while punching her in the vaginal area with his other hand. She told police she was able to scratch the man’s male parts with her nails to make him stop, adding that she was able to force him out the front door and lock it.
Court documents describe the alleged crimes as occurring between 11:30 p.m. April 11 and 1:44 a.m. April 12.
According to court documents, the woman reported the incident to Platte City police at about 6:25 p.m. April 12.
A break in the investigation occurred Friday, April 17 when the victim reported receiving a text message that read “Still mad at me Fred.”
She told police she did not recognize the number but because he used the name Fred she believed it was from the person who had attacked her.
Authorities obtained a warrant for records associated with that phone number. Records showed the number associated with James D. Knight of Hillsboro, Ala.
A copy of the James D. Knight Alabama driver’s license picture was placed in a photo lineup and the woman identified Knight as being the person who had attacked her.
According to court documents, three other people present in the Pool Hall the night of the incident also viewed the photo lineup and identified Knight as being in the Pool Hall that night. Two of them identified Knight as having left with or followed the woman out of the Pool Hall when she left.
The week of the arrest, Lt. Al Devalkenaere with the Platte City Police Department told The Landmark that police believe Knight is familiar with the Platte City area because he previously was a contractor at the Iatan power plant.