Two of three defendants facing charges stemming from their employment at the Morgan County jail have disposed of their cases, pleading guilty to various charges.

Two of three defendants facing charges stemming from their employment at the Morgan County jail have disposed of their cases, pleading guilty to various charges.

A contract nurse and two jail staff were charged in December 2017 after an investigation into alleged improprieties.

Janet Leigh Phillips, 31, of Versailles was originally charged with one count of sexual conduct with a prisoner by a jail employee, a Class E felony; two counts of delivery of a prohibited item to a prisoner, a Class A misdemeanor; and one count of bribery of a public servant, a Class E felony.

The case was moved to Pulaski County on a change of venue. Phillips pleaded guilty to one charge of bribery of a public servant. The other charges were dismissed. Phillips was given a sentence of four years of supervised probation.

Former Morgan County Detention Officer Elizabeth Knipp, 26, of Versailles was originally charged with sexual conduct with a prisoner by a jail employee; delivery of a prohibited item to a prisoner; concealing a felony, a Class E felony; and acceding to corruption by a public servant, a Class E felony.

Last week, Knipp entered a guilty plea to one charge of delivery of a prohibited item to a prisoner. The other charges were dismissed. Knipp was sentenced to two years or supervised probation.

The third defendant — former Morgan County Detention Officer Robert Hoover, 25 — has been charged with sexual conduct with a prisoner by a jail employee and delivery of a prohibited item to a prisoner.

Hoover is scheduled to go to trial later this year.

Morgan County deputies investigated Phillips, who at the time was employed as a contract nurse for the jail, and the two detention center employees after receiving information from Phillips’ former boyfriend in November of last year.

The inmate, Vernon Dale Parker Jr., 46, of Jefferson City, was being held at the Morgan County jail on the charge of failing to register as a sex offender. On November 27, 2017 he entered a guilty plea to the Class D felony and received a suspended execution of sentence, receiving five years supervised probation.

According to the former boyfriend, he and Phillips had broken up over the affair he believed she was having with Parker. When the former boyfriend confronted Phillips about it, she allegedly confirmed the affair with the inmate, the court document stated.

The former boyfriend also told the investigator that he had searched Phillips’ vehicle and found a couple of love letters from an unknown person and a gray cell phone. He reported that Phillips had been receiving text messages from a Morgan County jail inmate on the phone and that he had reported this activity to law enforcement in the past.

When investigators interviewed Phillips, she reportedly admitted to having sex at the jail with Parker and gave consent for police to search her vehicle. Police found a gray and black cell phone belonging to Phillips, a One-Step pregnancy test and a Power of Attorney from Parker to Phillips, according to court documents.

During a second interview Phillips reportedly told investigators she believed she was pregnant by Parker. She also told investigators she had texted a photo of a positive pregnancy test to Knipp, asking her to show it to Parker. Phillips reportedly admitted to having sex with Parker at least five times in the Inmate Property Room of the jail.

According to court documents, Phillips also admitted to bringing pouches of tobacco, or “chew,” to the jail for Parker. Chewing tobacco or snuff is prohibited to inmates.

Phillips also reportedly told investigators that the cell phone found in her car had been given to her by Parker with instructions to get rid of it.

Phillips allegedly consented to a digital forensic search of her cell phone. A text string was found between Phillips and Knipp. The texts referred to Phillips’ pregnancy and Phillips coming to the jail when Knipp was working so Phillips could talk to Parker about the pregnancy.

During an interview with Knipp she admitted knowledge of Phillips’ affair with Parker and stated that Phillips had brought a cell phone into the jail for Parker, stating it was kept in the Property Room for him to use.

Knipp said that it became known that an inmate had a cellular phone in the jail and that Knipp was paid the sum of $100 by Phillips to keep quiet about what was going on.

Knipp admitted to sending and receiving text messages on her cell phone for Phillips and Parker and alleged Hoover was also aware of the affair.

Knipp said Phillips told her she had passed a cell phone to Parker sometime in October, and that the relationship had been ongoing since early September.

In Hoover’s interview, he also allegedly admitted to knowing of the relationship, and that Phillips and Parker had spent large amounts of time in the Property Room of the jail, though he had never witnessed any sexual acts. He also admitted to sending and receiving text messages as a go-between for Phillips and Parker.

Hoover told police that Phillips had told him that when Parker was released they were going to start a life together. He also acknowledged receiving a picture text message of the positive pregnancy test from Phillips. The accompanying message with the picture stated she wanted to surprise Parker with the news.