October 13, 2016
JUSTIN DAVID LAWS, d/o/b 8-15-1985, of Hollister, was sentenced to eight (8) years in prison on Thursday, October 13, 2016, by Taney County Circuit Court Judge Laura Johnson, for the class C felony of unlawful possession of a concealable firearm. Laws had entered his guilty plea on August 4, 2016, without any agreement with prosecutors as to what sentence he would receive.
On April 7, 2016, Hollister Police officers responded to a call for service at 103 Gage Drive, where Laws was found passed out behind the wheel of his automobile, parked in the Taco Bell “drive-thru” lane. Laws was found to be under the influence of drugs, and a sawed-off shotgun was in plain view on the passenger seat. Laws was identified as a convicted felon, and was charged by the Taney County Prosecutor’s Office as a prior and persistent felony offender. Laws remained in custody at the Taney County jail from the time of his arrest until his sentencing on Thursday.
In addition to the eight (8) years in prison for unlawful possession of a concealable firearm, Laws was sentenced to 180 days in jail for the class B misdemeanor of driving while intoxicated on drugs. Those sentences were ordered by the court to be served concurrently with one another. The class C felony of unlawful possession of a concealable firearm normally carries a maximum penalty of seven (7) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections and/or a $5,000.00 fine. However, because Laws was charged as a prior and persistent felony offender, his maximum possible sentence was enhanced to fifteen (15) years in prison.
October 7, 2016
CHRISTOPHER JOE HOLDREN, d/o/b 12-23-1993, of Springfield, was sentenced to five (5) years in prison on Thursday, October 6, 2016, in the Circuit Court of Taney County, for the class C felony of tampering with a motor vehicle in the first degree. Holdren was sentenced pursuant to a plea agreement with the Taney County Prosecutor’s Office.
On August 28, 2016, Holdren was seen driving a silver GMC Yukon that had just been reported stolen from the Branson First Stop convenience store, on Branson Hills Parkway. Branson Police officers and Taney County Sheriff’s deputies attempted to initiate a traffic stop of the vehicle, but Holdren refused to yield to officers. After running multiple stoplights on Branson Hills Parkway, Holdren crashed the stolen vehicle, then fled from officers on foot. Moments after the crash, Holdren was apprehended by police.
The class C felony of tampering with a motor vehicle in the first degree carries a maximum penalty of seven (7) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections and/or a $5,000.00 fine.
September 16, 2016
On Thursday, September 15, 2016, Circuit Court Judge Laura Johnson sentenced PHILIP W. RASMUSSEN, d/o/b 4-09-1960, of Branson, to fifteen (15) years in prison for the crime of assault in the second degree. Rasmussen had been found guilty by a Taney County jury on Tuesday, July 12, 2016, for punching a man in the throat – fracturing the man’s trachea. Taney County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Thomas Kondro tried the case for the State of Missouri.
The maximum penalty for the class C felony of assault in the second degree is normally seven (7) years in prison and a $5,000.00 fine. However, Rasmussen was charged by the Taney County Prosecutor’s Office as a prior and persistent felony offender, enhancing the maximum possible sentence to fifteen (15) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections. Rasmussen was on parole in Arkansas for battery at the time he committed the assault in Taney County. Rasmussen’s criminal history also includes a Kentucky conviction for first-degree manslaughter.
September 16, 2016
On Thursday afternoon, September 15, 2016, in St. Charles, Missouri, Taney County Prosecutor Jeff Merrell delivered a presentation with Micki Lane, of the Child Advocacy Center, Inc., in Springfield, Missouri, on questioning children in court. The presentation, entitled “Watch Your Language”, was part of the twelfth annual Midwest Justice for Children Conference, co-sponsored by the St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and The Child Center, Inc. – the local child advocacy center, located in St. Charles.
“Watch Your Language” was first presented by Merrell and Lane on May 5, 2016, at the tenth annual Family & Sexual Violence Conference, in Lake Ozark, Missouri. The Family & Sexual Violence Conference is sponsored by the Missouri Office of Prosecution Services.
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