May 21, 2015
On Thursday, May 21, 2015, in the Circuit Court of Taney County, DUSTIN C. COOK, d/o/b 2-15-1979, of Reeds Spring, was sentenced to twelve (12) years in prison for two (2) counts of assault of a law enforcement officer in the second degree and one (1) count of tampering with a motor vehicle in the first degree. Each of those twelve (12) year sentences was ordered to run concurrently with one another, pursuant to a plea agreement between the defendant and the Taney County Prosecutor’s Office.
Late on the evening of December 30, 2013, Branson Police detectives were investigating a stolen pickup that was spotted near the intersection of Main and Michel streets, in Branson. Upon attempting to stop and detain the pickup and its occupants, the driver – identified by detectives as Dustin Cook – drove the stolen truck at officers, nearly striking them. Cook then drove the pickup to another location before fleeing on foot. He was apprehended the same night by Branson Police.
The three (3) counts Cook was sentenced on are class C felonies. A class C felony normally carries a maximum prison term of seven (7) years, but because the Taney County Prosecutor’s Office charged Cook as a prior and persistent felony offender, the maximum possible sentence on each count was enhanced to fifteen (15) years in prison.
May 20, 2015
JAMES M. STRAUB, d/o/b 1-29-1985, of Branson, appeared in the Circuit Court of Taney County early Wednesday, May 20, 2015, and entered a plea of guilty to the unclassified felony of attempted forcible rape. Circuit Court Judge Laura Johnson heard the guilty plea and scheduled sentencing for August 27, 2015. Straub entered the plea pursuant to a plea agreement with the Taney County Prosecutor’s Office that caps his possible sentence at twenty-five (25) years in prison.
Straub was charged as a result of an incident late on the afternoon of September 21, 2014, at Lakeside Wilderness Park, off Fall Creek Road, in Branson, where a woman was attacked in the public restroom. Straub was in a stall in the women’s bathroom, and when the victim opened her stall door to leave, Straub assaulted and attempted to rape her. The woman fought-off Straub and was able to escape. Straub fled the scene, but was arrested moments later by Branson Police.
Attempted forcible rape carries a range of punishment of five (5) years up to life in the Missouri Department of Corrections. In such cases, the Missouri Department of Corrections calculates a life sentence as thirty (30) years.
May 11, 2015
AMBER A. HILL a/k/a AMBER DAUGHERTY, d/o/b 1-12-1986, of Merriam Woods, Missouri, pleaded guilty and was sentenced for felony resisting arrest on Thursday, May 7, 2015, in the Circuit Court of Taney County, Missouri. Pursuant to a plea agreement with the Taney County Prosecutor’s Office, Hill was sentenced to five (5) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections.
While visiting someone at Cox Medical Center in Branson, Hill was identified as having warrants for probation violations. When Branson Police officers attempted to arrest Hill in the hospital, she was verbally threatening toward the officers and attempted to push through them to leave. Multiple security and police officers were needed to restrain Hill and take her into custody.
Hill was on probation for leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident and fraudulent use of a credit device.
May 10, 2015
KENNETH D. WOODS, d/o/b 4-09-1966, of Branson, was sentenced on Thursday, May 7, 2015, to ten (10) years in prison for the class B felony of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute. Taney County Circuit Court Judge Laura Johnson sentenced Woods pursuant to a plea agreement that capped the potential sentence at ten (10) years and allowed Woods to argue to the court for probation.
Woods was charged after being caught by Branson Police on September 17, 2014, in a motel room with methamphetamine and multiple known drug-users. Woods admitted that he was selling meth out of that motel room. Two other people in the motel room were caught in possession of property recently stolen from Wal-Mart.
The class B felony of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute is punishable by up to fifteen (15) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections.
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