Lawyer weighs in on eviction issues after fatal Moberly shooting
COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
A mid-Missouri attorney says many of her clients who are landlords are frustrated because an extended eviction moratorium bans most tenants from being evicted, even if they aren't paying rent.
Court documents we uncovered Monday detail an eviction dispute leading up to the fatal Thursday night Moberly shooting.
"In my experience, courts are not evicting anyone at this time," said Gwen Hart, an attorney with Shurtleff Froeschner Harris, LLC.
The Center for Disease Control director Rochelle Walensky signed an extension to the eviction moratorium from June 30 to July 31, due to the pandemic.
Jerry Fitzwater, charged in the shooting death of Mitchell Nickerson, is a landlord in a Randolph County case. Fitzwater tried to evict his tenant Margaret Lancaster multiple times over the last year, but couldn't get her out.
Lancaster says Nickerson would visit to help her around the house.
According to the Missouri Attorney General's Office, the landlord may begin eviction proceedings if a tenant: damages property, fails to pay rent, allows drug-related criminal activity on the premises, or fails to vacate at the end of the lease term, among other things.
Fitzwater named a few of these reasons in his lawsuit, which Lancaster denied.
Lancaster appealed a judge's decision to give Fitzwater the property back in June.
"Right now, it's very difficult and very complicated, there's been a moratorium on eviction and just within the last couple of weeks I believe that the Supreme Court has indicated that the CDC protection are against more against eviction before July 31 are valid," Hart said.
Hart says she expects to see a lot of evictions at the end of the moratorium.
"I understand that he was really impatient and frustrated," Hart said. "I have clients right now that are frustrated and impatient to get on with their life and get their payments, that's their life is on hold at this point."
The Randolph County Prosecutor charged Fitzwater with first degree assault, armed criminal action and unlawful use of a weapon.
The prosecutor says she will amend Fitzwater's charges as soon as this week.