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BRANSON MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO STATUTORY RAPE

February 22, 2018

On Thursday, February 22, 2018, KYLE LEE SMITH, d/o/b 10-27-1987, of Branson, pleaded guilty to two (2) counts of statutory rape in the second degree, in the Circuit Court of Taney County, Missouri. Smith appeared in custody before Associate Circuit Court Judge Eric Eighmy and admitted to having sexual intercourse in the summer of 2015 with two (2) underage girls on separate occasions. Judge Eighmy accepted Smith’s guilty pleas, ordered a sentencing assessment report be conducted, and scheduled sentencing for May 3, 2018.

The victims disclosed that in the summer of 2015 Smith engaged in sexual intercourse with them at his home in Branson – and each girl disclosed separate incidents. Smith was interviewed by an investigator and denied the allegations. DNA was discovered on an item of clothing belonging to one victim through the course of the investigation, and was found by criminalists at the Missouri State Highway Patrol Crime Lab to be semen – consistent with the DNA profile of Kyle Lee Smith.

“This guilty plea is the result of the cooperative effort of multiple law enforcement agencies, across multiple jurisdictions,” says Jeff Merrell, Taney County Prosecuting Attorney. “The success of this prosecution is a testament to the selfless, team approach I get to see from law enforcement officers day-in and day-out in this job.”

Statutory rape in the second degree committed in 2015 was a class C felony, so each count Smith pleaded guilty to carries a maximum sentence of seven (7) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections and a $5,000.00 fine. Pursuant to a plea agreement with the Taney County Prosecutor’s Office, Smith’s sentence is capped at five (5) years in prison, and the Prosecutor’s Office will argue for Smith’s sentence to run consecutively to a fifteen (15) year federal sentence Smith is currently serving. Smith is a former teacher at an Arkansas high school.

Topics: News |

SOUTHERN DISTRICT COURT OF APPEALS UPHOLDS ROBERT CAMPBELL MURDER CONVICTIONS

February 8, 2018

Taney County Prosecuting Attorney Jeffrey M. Merrell announced today that the Southern District Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment and sentence of Robert Campbell for his role in the murder-for-hire plot that resulted in the deaths of Russell and Rebecca Porter, of Willard, Missouri in April of 2011.

On July 13, 2016, a Jasper County jury returned two (2) guilty verdicts against Campbell for murder in the second degree. The jury deliberated for several hours before reaching its verdicts. Following the guilty verdicts, the same jury heard evidence on sentencing, and delivered recommendations of life for each of the two (2) counts. Campbell’s trial was heard in Jasper County on a change of venue from Taney County – where Russell and Rebecca Porter’s remains were discovered in July of 2011. On September 12, 2016, Robert Campbell was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences by Judge Gayle Crane who accepted the recommendation of the jury.

Codefendants Tony Friend and Windy Friend were also convicted as well. Tony Friend plead guilty in 2013, and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. On March 31, 2014, a Taney County jury found Windy Friend guilty of two (2) counts of murder in the first degree and she was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for her role.

This case was the focus of a television special by On the Case with Paula Zahn on the Investigation Discovery network. The episode can be viewed, in it’s entirety by following the link below:

ON THE CASE – SEASON 15 – EPISODE 9 – TRAIL OF BETRAYAL

The full text of the Southern District Court of Appeals decision can be read here:

STATE OF MISSOURI v. ROBERT CAMPBELL, SD34647

Topics: News |

FUGATE GETS SEVEN (7) YEARS FOR POSSESSION WITH INTENT AND UNLAWFUL POSSESSION OF A FIREARM

February 7, 2018

On Wednesday afternoon, February 7, 2018, ROBERT A. FUGATE, d/o/b 1-06-1992, of Branson, entered guilty pleas to felony charges of possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver and unlawful possession of a firearm. Taney County Associate Circuit Judge Eric Eighmy accepted Fugate’s guilty pleas and sentenced Fugate to seven (7) years in prison on each of the two felonies – pursuant to a plea agreement with the Taney County Prosecutor’s Office.

The charges stemmed from October 12, 2017, when officers with the Branson Police Department encountered Fugate during a traffic stop. After learning that Fugate had an active warrant for his arrest, the officers took him into custody and searched him. Fugate was found to have a handgun in his waistband, and over 3 grams of methamphetamine in his pocket. Fugate stated to officers during the search of his pockets, “I’m racking up the felonies.” Fugate was also found in possession of a set of scales and a supply of plastic baggies, which are commonly used in the distribution of controlled substances.

Fugate’s possession of a firearm was a crime because he had previously been convicted of two felonies – theft and unlawful use of a weapon – in August of 2016. Possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver is a class C felony and carries a potential maximum sentence of ten (10) years in prison. Unlawful possession of a firearm is a class D felony and carries a potential maximum sentence of seven (7) years in prison and/or a $10,000.00 fine.

Topics: News |

SHELIA KELLETT RETIRES AFTER NEARLY SEVENTEEN (17) YEARS OF SERVICE

February 1, 2018

Taney County Prosecuting Attorney, Jeffrey M. Merrell is sad to announce that long-time employee, Shelia Kellett has announced her retirement from the Taney County Prosecuting Attorney’s office after nearly seventeen years of exemplary service to the citizens of Taney County. A reception was held in her honor yesterday celebrating her time with the prosecutor’s office. Shelia served in a number of roles over her years with the office, including managing bad checks and restitution as well as the traffic caseload.

“Shelia’s hard work, dedication, and compassion for victims will truly be missed by our office. I hope she and her husband have a happy and healthy retirement,” said Taney Country Prosecuting Attorney, Jeff Merrell in response to the retirement.

As a result of Shelia’s retirement, the Taney County Prosecuting Attorney had recently sought applications from people seeking to fill that position in the office. The Prosecutor has recently been conducting interviews for the position of traffic clerk.

 

Topics: News |


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