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Perris begins duties as assistant prosecuting attorney

FARMINGTON – The St. Francois County Prosecuting Attorney’s office is back up to full staff.

Melissa Perris began her duties as an assistant prosecuting attorney Feb. 21. Ben Campbell joined the office in early February after working for the Missouri Public Defender’s Office for seven years.

They filled the vacancies left behind by Joe Lanter, who took a job in another state, and Wendy Wexler Horn, who was appointed associate circuit judge in October. Now there are once again five attorneys working in the office.

“We are already seeing a huge lift in our workload,” said Jerrod Mahurin who was appointed to the prosecuting attorney position in January. “They both hit the ground running full speed.”

Perris grew up in Hillsboro and graduated from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale in 2009. She worked as an assistant prosecuting attorney for the Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for two years and then worked briefly as defense attorney for the Hammon Law Firm.

Mahurin likes that Perris has prosecutorial and jury trial experience. She’s gone to work right away, filing charges and working on plea bargains.

“She complements the office really well,” Mahurin said.

Mahurin said Perris brings fresh ideas to the office.

“She’s had different experiences with things we don’t deal with as much,” he said.

Perris said she is glad to be working for a prosecutor’s office again.

“You definitely feel better about what you are doing,” said Perris, whose plans are to move to St. Francois County along with her husband and dog.

Campbell, who is from Illinois, is also a graduate of Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. In addition to working as a public defender, he worked at Knapp, Ohl and Green, an insurance defense firm in Edwardsville, Ill.

Mahurin has said hiring Campbell was a very easy decision because of his experience and because he was local.

Because Campbell was a public defender who represented many defendants, he and the St. Francois County Prosecuting Attorney’s office have been disqualified from many cases.

“Luckily, the surrounding counties have been very gracious to accept cases we have been sending them,” Mahurin said.

Washington County Prosecuting Attorney Josh Hedgecorth and Ste. Genevieve County Prosecuting Attorney Carl Kinsky have been a great help, he said.

Teresa Ressel is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-431-2010, ext. 179 or at tressel@dailyjournalonline.com.

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