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Decision on trial in duck boat tragedy delayed until 2022

People killed in duck boat tragedy weren't wearing life jackets when found, source says
Posted at 12:25 AM, Dec 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-10 00:25:04-05

GALENA, Mo. (AP/WRTV) — A judge says he will decide next year whether three men charged after a tourist boat sank in Missouri in 2018 will go to trial.

The three men, Kenneth McKee, Curtis Lanham and Charles Baltzell, were charged after a vessel known as a duck boat sank on Table Rock Lake near Branson on July 19, 2018, killing 17 people.

Nine of the victims were members of an Indianapolis family. Tia Coleman and her then-13-year-old nephew, Donovan, were the only members of her family who survived. Riders from Missouri, Illinois and Arkansas were also killed.

After a two-day preliminary hearing on Dec. 8 and 9, Associate Circuit Judge Alan Mark Blankenship on Thursday gave prosecutors until the end of the year to respond to defense attorneys' request that the case be dismissed.

The judge said he will set a court date next year to announce his decision.

The charges in state court were announced in July 2021.

In December 2020, a federal judge dismissed neglect and misconduct charges against the three employees.

Soon after, Tia Coleman urged the Missouri State Attorney General to pursue criminal charges in the case.

“What does it say about us as a society if those who put profits over passenger safety can get away with their criminal acts?" Coleman said in December 2020 in a statement released by her attorneys.

Missouri online court records show McKee's attorney filed a motion to dismiss for lack of probable cause on Dec. 7. A not guilty plea was entered in September.

Baltzell and Lanham had not gulity pleas entered on Sept. 9. On Sept. 27, Baltzell's attorney filed a "motion to dismiss the complaint for failing to state facts supporting a finding of probable cause," according to online court records. Missouri Assistant Attorney General Thomas Kondro filed a response on Oct. 8 and Baltzell's reply was filed by his attorney on Nov. 30.

Lanham's attorney filed a "motion to dismiss for states failure to establish probable cause in its probable cause statement" on Sept. 27. Kondro filed a response on Oct. 8.

RELATED | Coast Guard finds probable cause Missouri duck boat sunk because of captain's negligence | Tia Coleman: Duck boat survivor's 'new normal' | Duck boat survivor Tia Coleman reflects as 1-year mark of sinking nears