BENTON - Several Scott County Jail inmates are among the first recipients of indictments handed down from the county's grand jury.
"Indictments have been served on individuals who are currently in custody in Scott County," Prosecutor Paul Boyd confirmed Monday. "I would guess we have over 15 that have been served."
This is the first grand jury convened in the county since the early 1990s.
"I believe most of them involve drug or sex cases and a murder case," Boyd said. The murder indictment was for Robert L. Grant, 21, of Scott City, accused of murdering Chad L. Chaney, also of Scott City, during a party in remote area of Scott County July 12.
"There were a specific number of cases that were designed to go before the grand jury before it was called, and we are continuing to use the grand jury on other cases," Boyd said.
The grand jury was selected and convened July 28 and is scheduled to remain in place until Dec. 31.
"I think things are going as well as can be expected for the grand jury," Boyd said. While there "has been a strong emphasis on drug cases" presented to the grand jury, "they are free to investigate any criminal activity going on in the county," according to the prosecutor.
There are also "continuing ongoing investigations in a variety of criminal activities," Boyd said, although he declined to be any more specific as it could affect any pending investigations.
"An indictment is not active until the warrant is served on the individual - once the warrant is served, the indictment actually exists," Boyd explained. "It's up to local law enforcement to find them and serve the warrant."
The grand jury reviews evidence presented by the prosecutor on a number cases, after which they vote and decide "whether they're going to return an indictment or not," Boyd explained. "They make a decision on whether or not there is probable cause that a crime was committed and that a specific defendant committed it."
A grand jury is made up of 12 members and two alternates. For an indictment to be handed down, nine of the 12 members must vote for it.
The prosecutor then prepares charges for the indictment form.
"Once the indictments are returned to the clerk, the warrants are issued," Boyd said.
"There are probably warrants out there that have not been served on specific individuals yet," he said. "It doesn't become public record until the warrant is served."
"The grand jury is supposed to operate under anonymity," Boyd added, explaining this keeps them insulated from public pressures.
Some of the active indictments from this grand jury "are already to go to the trial stage," according to Boyd, if they don't enter guilty pleas. "We have some set as early as the latter part of October or early November."
While there is a cost to the county to have a grand jury in session, "it will be worth it to the county," Boyd said.
In addition to providing a tool for conducting undercover drug investigations and using confidential informants, Boyd said those who serve on a grand jury take with them from the experience "a better understanding of the criminal justice system."