News

Pike County names Matt Goetten as state's attorney

Posted: Jun. 12, 2014 6:05 pm Updated: Jun. 26, 2014 7:15 pm
By DEBORAH GERTZ HUSAR
Herald-Whig Staff Writer

PITTSFIELD, Ill. — Pike County’s new state’s attorney sees himself as a way to help the county “bridge the gap” between now and November.

The Pike County Board held a special meeting Thursday night to accept the resignation of Carrie Boyd and to name Matt Goetten, a Democrat from Greene County, as her replacement to serve through Nov. 30.

Goetten, 42, is a former Greene County state’s attorney who did not seek re-election to make an unsuccessful run for Congress in the 13th District in 2012. He has since worked with the appellate prosecutor’s service, most recently as a special prosecutor in Pike County. He will take a leave of absence from the appellate prosecutor’s office.

“The office is in good shape. It’s just getting it through November so someone can be elected by the people of Pike County to take over and make those hard decisions,” Goetten said. “In a lot of ways, not having connections to the county makes it easier for me to make those tougher decisions — at least as a special prosecutor, I’ve found that to be the case.”

Voters in November will select someone to serve the remaining two years of Boyd’s term. County Clerk Donnie Apps said the Democrat and Republican parties have until Aug. 27 to submit a name for the November ballot. Goetten said he has no plans to run for the job, which pays $128,959 annually.

The county’s Democratic central committee submitted the names of Goetten and former Pike County State’s Attorney Brett Irving to County Board Chairman Andy Borrowman.

After hearing from both men, Borrowman asked for a motion to name Irving as state’s attorney. That motion failed with only three board members — Harry Wright, Michael Boren and Fred Bradshaw — voting in favor. A second motion to name Goetten passed on a 6-2 vote.

“Matt has been here for a few months and hit the ground running. I think it’s easier to drop him in,” board member Dan Mefford said.

Boyd, the county’s first female state’s attorney, was elected to a four-year term in November 2012. She resigned June 2, citing “family issues,” in a voicemail message to Borrowman.

Boyd’s resignation ended a hectic 17-day period that started May 16 when she charged Pike County Sheriff Paul Petty with felony official misconduct and failure to perform duties in his role as the county’s coroner in connection with a September 2012 death investigation. Petty’s case has been delayed indefinitely until Judge Chet Vahle can find someone to prosecute the case.

“I will review all felony caseload, including that case, and make a determination on how those go forward based on what I see in the files,” Goetten said. “The people of Pike County, if they do have some misgivings about what’s going on, they shouldn’t. Everything’s fine.”

Boyd had frequently been absent from work after filing the charges against Petty.  She did not attend a May 22 plea hearing in the case of John R. Edgar, 26, of Pearl, who was charged with drug-induced homicide in the Sept. 26, 2012, death of Shanda M. Lopez, 47, of Milton.

Authorities believe Lopez died of opiate intoxication after she ingested heroin the night before. Edgar was accused of supplying the drugs that killed Lopez.

Edgar is expected to plead guilty to a lesser charge at a June 26 sentencing and receive 30 months probation.

Most Pike County court cases were continued last week after  Boyd resigned, but court was back in session this week.

“A lot of ink has been spilled on Pike County over the last month,” board member Jim Sheppard said. “I think it’s time to put it in the past and move forward.”

dhusar@whig.com/221-3379