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December 19, 2014

Taney County Prosecuting Attorney, Jeff Merrell, announced today that DUSTY RAY HICKS, DOB: 5/27/1987, of Greene County, Missouri, entered a guilty plea Thursday afternoon, December 18, 2014, to six (6) felonies, in the Taney County Circuit Court. Hicks pleaded guilty to two (2) counts of murder in the second degree, two (2) counts of armed criminal action, and two (2) counts of felonious restraint, pursuant to a plea agreement with the Taney County Prosecutor’s Office. In exchange for Hicks’ guilty pleas, the two (2) counts of murder were amended from first-degree to second-degree, and his potential sentences would be capped. Special Circuit Court Judge Calvin Holden accepted Hicks’ guilty plea, and scheduled formal sentencing for February 19, 2015.

The maximum sentence for murder in the second degree is life in prison – with the possibility of parole. There is no statutory maximum sentence for the crimes of armed criminal action, though the plea agreement states that there will be a cap of fifty (50) years for Hicks’ guilty pleas to those two (2) counts. The maximum sentence for felonious restraint is seven (7) years in prison. Pursuant to the plea agreement, Hicks’ sentences are to be concurrent, and his lawyer may argue for less than the maximum sentences recommended by the Taney County Prosecutor.

Dusty Hicks was indicted by a Taney County grand jury in 2012 on those felonies for his role in the disappearance and deaths of Russell and Rebecca Porter, of Willard, Missouri, occurring April 18, 2011. Tony Friend was previously sentenced to life in prison without parole for his guilty pleas to murder in the first degree. Tony’s son, Phillip Friend, previously pled guilty to murder in the second degree and felonious restraint. Tony’s wife, Windy Friend, was found guilty by a jury earlier this year of first-degree murder, and was sentenced to life in prison without parole. Robert Campbell still faces charges for murder in the first degree.

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December 8, 2014

On Thursday, December 4, 2014, in the Circuit Court of Taney County, GARRY LEE SPAIN, d/o/b 7-21-1953, of Jackson, Tennessee, entered a plea of guilty to the felony of tampering in the first degree. Spain was sentenced by Senior Judge William Roberts to five (5) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections, pursuant to a plea agreement with the Taney County Prosecutor’s Office.

On October 9, 2014, Branson Police were patrolling the parking lot of Walmart on Highway 76, in Branson, Missouri, when Spain was observed sleeping in a Chevrolet pickup truck with Louisiana license plates and a missing window. Police ran the plates and discovered that the truck was reported stolen from the State of Louisiana. Upon questioning, Spain claimed that he had borrowed the truck several days before, and that no one knew he was in Missouri with it. As it turned out, Spain did not have permission to be in possession of the Chevrolet pickup. By knowingly possessing the stolen vehicle, Spain was guilty of the crime of tampering in the first degree.

Tampering in the first degree is a class C felony, which carries a range of punishment of up to seven (7) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections and/or a $5,000.00 fine.

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November 17, 2014

On Monday, November 17, 2014, in the Circuit Court of Christian County, Senior Judge William Roberts found RONALD L. STODDARD, d/o/b 6-10-1960, of Rockaway Beach, Missouri, guilty of two (2) counts of the class B felony of distribution of a controlled substance. Judge Roberts presided over a bench trial that began Monday morning and lasted into the early afternoon, during which Assistant Taney County Prosecutor Thomas Kondro represented the State of Missouri. The case had been transferred to Christian County on a change of venue motion.

The Taney County Prosecutor’s Office charged that on March 6, 2013, and March 13, 2013, Stoddard gave Xanax pills to an confidential informant and a narcotics investigator with the C.O.M.E.T. drug task force. Testimony was presented that these crimes were committed during a time when Stoddard was working as a bail bondsman in Taney County, and that one of the illegal transactions occurred in the parking lot of the Taney County Judicial Center.

Each count of the class B felony of distribution of a controlled substance carries a range of punishment from five (5) to fifteen (15) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections. Senior Judge Roberts set Stoddard’s sentencing for January 20, 2015.

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November 7, 2014

On Wednesday, November 5, 2014, a judgment was issued by Senior Judge Carr Woods finding GERALD W. MOGAN, d/o/b 2-23-1970, of El Dorado Springs, Missouri, guilty of the class D felony of attempted misconduct with a child involving indecent exposure and the unclassified felony of attempted enticement of a child. The judgment followed a bench trial held on September 17, 2014, in the Circuit Court of Taney County, where the State of Missouri was represented by Assistant Taney County Prosecutor Tony Brown.

Between July 7, 2010, and August 12, 2010, Mogan engaged in email correspondence with Detective Nina Welch, of the Taney County Sheriff’s Office, while Detective Welch was posing online as a 13-year-old girl. Mogan attempted to convince the Detective – whom Mogan believed to be a 13-year-old – to sneak out of the house to engage in sexual contact with him. Mogan also exposed his genitals to the undercover officer via webcam on more than one occasion.

Judge Woods scheduled Mogan’s sentencing for January 13, 2015.

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