Murder suspects Melvin Scherrer and Brent Bouren appeared in federal court Tuesday for their drug charges.
Each of the men accused of killing tattoo artist Sam Francis appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge David Noce for their federal charges.
Scherrer, 49, of rural Bonne Terre, is charged in federal court with conspiracy to distribute/possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of meth between October 2010 and Sept. 4, 2013; two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm (semi-automatic pistol and a Browning Arms Company 6 mm caliber handgun); two counts of possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking; and possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of meth.
He is now charged as a prior drug offender due to a possession of meth conviction in 2008 which means the conspiracy to distribute and the possession with intent to distribute charges each carry a minimum sentence of 20 years in prison without release and/or a $20 million fine if convicted of those charges.
On Tuesday Scherrer’s attorney, Mark Byrne, asked to withdraw from the case. Byrne complained Scherrer hasn’t been paying him and he has incurred thousands of dollars of expenses. The U.S. Attorney’s office reminded the court that the government has a motion for Scherrer to forfeit most of his possessions, including a bank account.
Judge Noce asked Scherrer if he had the ability to hire a replacement attorney and Scherrer, appearing in a gray and white-striped jumpsuit, replied no. The judge then asked Byrne if Byrne was opposed to being appointed as counsel with reimbursement through Criminal Justice Act compensation.
Byrne has until Thursday to decide if he will refuse appointment.
“I don’t think I could financially afford to do it,” he said.
The judge also extended the deadline for Scherrer to file pretrial motions to March 6.
Bouren, 42, of St. Louis, appearing in a blue Lincoln County jumpsuit with members of his family present in the courtroom, waived his right to file pretrial motions and his case was assigned to District Judge Catherine Perry for further court proceedings.
Bouren is charged with conspiracy to distribute/possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of meth between October 2010 and Sept. 4, 2013; felon in possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime (33 guns); and conspiring to distribute cocaine.
Alan Adler of Bonne Terre, Howard “Bud” Pyatt of Bonne Terre, Mark Abney of Bonne Terre, and Amber Scism of Farmington have already waived the right to file pretrial motions. Their cases have been assigned to Judge Perry as well.
Each are charged with conspiracy to distribute/possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of meth between October 2010 and Sept. 4, 2013. Abney is also charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm (five firearms). Adler is also charged with possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of meth.
Scherrer is charged in St. Francois County with first-degree murder, armed criminal action, abandonment of a corpse, felonious restraint and tampering with evidence. He has not yet made his first court appearance in this case.
Bouren is charged in St. Francois County with second-degree murder, felonious restraint, second-degree assault, armed criminal action and tampering with a witness. He has already waived his right to a preliminary hearing in that case.
Otto Plopper is also charged in connection with Francis’ death. He is charged with the Class D felony of abandonment of a corpse. A preliminary hearing has not yet been set.