PITTSFIELD - Pike County Sheriff and Coroner Paul Petty was exonerated today when Adams County Associate Judge Chet Vahle dismissed a felony misconduct charge against him.
Vahle wrote that a special prosecutor “determined that there is no proper basis in fact or in law for the prosecution of the charge to go forward.”
Former Pike County state’s attorney Carrie Boyd charged Petty on May 16, alleging he violated a coroner’s mandatory duty.
She claimed he prematurely allowed a mortician to embalm the body of drug overdose victim Shanda Lopez, in 2012.
On May 30, Boyd resigned.
Her action fueled suspicion that she retaliated against Petty for leading an investigation that embarrassed St. Clair County.
Last year Petty attributed the death of St. Clair County judge Joe Christ to cocaine, and he obtained a confession of drug use from former judge Michael Cook.
Cook now serves a two year sentence in federal prison for possessing heroin and using it while possessing firearms.
Twelve days after Christ died, Gov. Pat Quinn appointed Boyd to the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority.
She represented state’s attorneys of every county but Cook, though she had served only three months and had filed about 25 felony charges.
She chose not to involve herself in the Cook case and didn’t return calls about it.
Three weeks after filing the charge against Petty, it was dismissed inside a crowded court on Friday.
Pike Press reporter Beth Zumwalt told the Record that Vahle banged his gavel and the gallery applauded.
In his order he wrote that an accused is innocent until proven guilty and that, “no guilt has been established or proven beyond a mere allegation by one person.”
He wrote, “Sheriff Petty’s innocence of the charge against him has not been altered or changed, and no one in good faith and legally can say otherwise.”