August 11, 2014
On Thursday, August 7, 2014, in the Associate Circuit Court of Taney County, Division I, DUSTIN LAYTON, d/o/b/ 7-04-1993, of Hollister, entered a plea of guilty to sexual misconduct in the first degree, and received a one (1) year sentence in the Taney County Jail. Judge Tony Williams sentenced Layton pursuant to a plea agreement made between the defendant and the Taney County Prosecutor’s Office.
Layton had followed a young woman through the Walmart store at Branson Hills Parkway on April 24, 2014. When the woman stopped at an aisle to get an item from the shelf, Layton exposed his genitals and made sexual comments to her. Layton then fled, but was later identified by photo line-up and surveillance video.
In April of 2013, Layton had pleaded guilty to the class D felony of sexual misconduct involving a child by indecent exposure, for exposing his genitals to children on a Hollister School bus in 2010. Layton was on probation for that felony offense at the time he committed this crime in April of 2014. Also, in March of 2013, Layton entered a guilty plea to the class B misdemeanor of sexual misconduct in the first degree and served six (6) months in the Taney County Jail, for exposing his genitals to a high school student in Walmart in December of 2012.
Normally, sexual misconduct in the first degree is a class B misdemeanor. However, because Layton had previously been found guilty of similar crimes, this charge was a class A misdemeanor. A class A misdemeanor carries a maximum sentence of one (1) year in the county jail and/or a fine of $1,000.00. Layton’s felony probation was revoked as a result of Thursday’s guilty plea.
August 8, 2014
ROGELIO “ROGER” GARDUNO, JR., d/o/b: 3-03-1992, of Branson, Missouri, pled guilty on Thursday, August 7, 2014, to the class B felony of possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute, in the Circuit Court of Taney County. Senior Judge Carr Woods, acting as Taney County Circuit Court Judge sentenced Garduno to serve fourteen (14) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections, pursuant to a plea agreement with the Taney County Prosecutor’s Office.
From April 28, 2013, until April 30, 2013, Branson Police officers were investigating Garduno for distribution of drugs. Through communications with Garduno by phone and social media, an undercover officer was told by Garduno that he had morphine and Klonopin pills to sell out of a motel room. Klonopin is a brand of the controlled substance clonazepam.
Officers determined that Garduno had outstanding warrants for his arrest and located the motel in Branson where he was staying. On April 30, 2013, Garduno was arrested for outstanding warrants in the motel parking lot. During the arrest and search of Garduno, officers found over fifteen (15) clonazepam pills.
A class B felony carries a range of punishment of no less than five (5) years but no more than fifteen (15) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections. Garduno is already serving prison sentences of seven (7) years for burglary and ten (10) years for distribution of controlled substances.
July 30, 2014
WESLEY G. PYATT, d/o/b 5-04-1951, of Hollister, was sentenced on Wednesday, July 30, 2014, to seven (7) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections for the class B felony of driving while intoxicated. Senior Judge Carr Woods, acting as Taney County Circuit Court Judge, sentenced Pyatt after hearing a guilty plea by the defendant pursuant to a plea agreement with the Taney County Prosecutor’s Office.
On November 22, 2010, Taney County Sheriff’s Deputy Chris Kaempfer was called to the Western Taney County Fire Station #7, on Jefferson Road, in Branson, in reference to an intoxicated man in a car blocking the garage doors of the fire station. When Kaempfer and other deputies arrived, they observed Pyatt trying to get his car started, and observed Pyatt starting the car’s engine. Because Pyatt appeared to be intoxicated, deputies stopped him and attempted to conduct field sobriety tests, which Pyatt refused. After admitting he had a suspended driver’s license, Pyatt ceased cooperating or answering any questions for Deputy Kaempfer. At the Taney County jail, Pyatt refused a breath test.
Driving while intoxicated, as a first offense, is normally a class B misdemeanor, and handled by the Associate Circuit Courts. However, because Pyatt had four or more intoxication-related traffic offenses, he was charged with a class B felony for being a “chronic” D.W.I. offender. The range of punishment for a class B felony is not less than five (5) years in prison and not more than fifteen (15) years in prison. However, Pyatt was charged as a prior and persistent felony offender, enhancing his possible maximum prison sentence to thirty (30) years. Pyatt was sentenced to seven (7) years for driving while intoxicated. Pyatt has been in jail and substance abuse treatment off-and-on since this D.W.I offense.
July 18, 2014
DUSTIN C. COOK (d/o/b 2-15-1979), of Reeds Spring, Missouri, pleaded guilty on Thursday, July 17, 2014, in the Circuit Court of Taney County, to four felonies: two (2) counts of tampering with a motor vehicle in the first degree, two (2) counts of assault on a law enforcement officer in the second degree, and one (1) count of burglary in the second degree. Senior Judge Carr Woods accepted the plea and scheduled sentencing for September 18, 2014. At sentencing, the defendant will be sent to the Missouri Department of Corrections for ten (10) years on each of the five (5) counts, pursuant to a plea agreement with the Taney County Prosecutor’s Office.
The burglary charge – and one of the tampering charges – arose from an incident in Forsyth, on November 14, 2013. Late that night, the defendant and three other individuals smashed a window at Mobile Express, entered the business, and stole cash along with several vehicles. An investigation by the Forsyth Police Department, with the assistance of Branson police officers, led to the arrest of the defendant the next day. During an interview with detectives, the defendant confessed that he and his accomplices had burglarized the business and stolen the vehicles.
About six weeks later, the defendant stole a pickup truck in Branson. When Branson police officers located and attempted to detain him, the defendant drove the stolen truck at the officers. In the process, he nearly ran over one officer and narrowly avoided a collision with a patrol car occupied by another officer. After a short vehicle pursuit, in which the defendant drove at a high-rate-of-speed through a residential yard, he crashed the truck and attempted to flee from police on foot. Officers discovered the defendant hiding behind a residence. A handgun was found a short distance away, and the defendant later admitted he had been armed during his attempt to elude law enforcement. This incident led to the defendant being charged with tampering in the first degree and two (2) counts of assault on a law enforcement officer in the second degree.
All of the charges from these incidents are class C felonies. Ordinarily, class C felonies carry a maximum prison term of seven (7) years. However, because Cook was charged as a prior and persistent felony offender, the maximum possible prison terms on his charges were enhanced to fifteen (15) years.
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