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April 20, 2018

Taney County Prosecuting Attorney Jeffrey M. Merrell announced today that THOMAS BURRUS, d/o/b 12-01-1990 of Powersite, Missouri plead guilty without an agreement to the class D felony of failing to comply with the requirements of a registered sex offender as a prior and persistent felony offender.

On September 13, 2017 a vehicle being driven by THOMAS BURRUS was stopped for expired registration on State Hwy 76 and Aqua Road. During the traffic stop it was learned that THOMAS BURRUS had a suspended driver’s license as well as a prior conviction for felony sexual assault and was currently non-compliant in his registration requirements. During their investigation, the Taney County Sheriff’s Department learned that THOMAS BURRUS was no longer residing at the residence he previously reported to law enforcement in violation of the State of Missouri sex offender registration requirements. Missouri law requires that any change in name or residence be provided to the chief law enforcement officer of the County, normally the Sheriff, within three business days.

Formal sentencing is set for June 27th, 2018 at 1:00pm in front of Taney County Judge Eric Eighmy. As a prior and persistent felony offender, THOMAS BURRUS faces a range of punishment of three to ten years in the Department of Corrections, or up to one year in the Taney County Jail and/or a fine not to exceed ten-thousand dollars (10,000), or by both imprisonment and a fine. As a part of the plea THOMAS BURRUS also plead without an agreement to the class D misdemeanor of driving while license suspended.

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April 20, 2018

JUSTIN A. DECKER, d/o/b October 16, 1985, of Branson, Missouri entered an Alford plea of guilty in front of Associate Circuit Judge Eric Eighmy to the class C felony of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute as a prior and persistent drug offender. Decker announced his intent to enter a guilty plea on April 17th, the day before his case was set to go before a Stone County jury for trial on a change of venue requested by Decker.

On August 19, 2017, Decker was a passenger in a vehicle which was stopped for having no front plate in Branson. Decker had numerous warrants out for his arrest and was detained as part of the stop. Tygo, Branson’s K9 service animal, was deployed and detected the presence of drugs in the vehicle. The driver of the vehicle was found with numerous controlled substances, including alprazolam, methadone and heroin, and a digital scale was found in the vehicle. When questioned about the substances, Decker acknowledged that he intended on selling the drugs for the driver of the vehicle.

By entering an Alford plea, Decker agrees that the State could present enough evidence at trial to be found guilty by a judge or jury, but does not formally admit his guilt.

“I appreciate the hard work of the Branson Police Department and my staff in pulling this case together so quickly for trial as it was set for jury trial just two weeks ago,” said Taney County Prosecuting Attorney Jeffrey M. Merrell in response to the last minute plea of guilty.

Decker was sentenced by Judge Eighmy to ten (10) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections following a short argument by the State and his attorney. As a prior and persistent drug offender with two prior convictions for drug distribution related offenses, Decker was facing a class A felony range of punishment – between ten (10) years and life, or thirty (30) years in the Department of Corrections.

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April 13, 2018

As National Crime Victims week winds down, do not forget about the senior or disabled members of our community. The Missouri Department Health and Senior Services (DHSS) are responsible for investigating reports of abuse, bulling, neglect and financial exploitation. If you or anybody you know believe that any of those things have occurred please immediately call the Missouri Adult Abuse & Neglect Hotline at 1-800-392-0210 or visit

For more information please take a moment to watch the video below:

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April 10, 2018

On April 10, 2018, GARY DEAN PHILP d/o/b 7-10-1965, of Branson, Missouri, was sentenced to fifteen (15) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections for the class B felonies of distribution of methamphetamine and possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute and seven (7) years for the class D felony of distribution of drug paraphernalia by the Taney County Circuit Court Judge. The sentences were ordered to be served concurrently. PHILP’s attorney argued for a ten (10) year sentence and asked for probation.

PHILP was previously convicted of those charges by a jury on November 27, 2017. At trial, Assistant Prosecutors Tony Brown and Chris Lebeck presented evidence that on August 4, 2016, an officer with the COMET Drug Task Force received a tip that PHILP was selling methamphetamine out of his hotel room at the Plantation Inn, in Branson. The officer made contact with PHILP at the hotel and was sold what was purported to be one (1) gram of methamphetamine for $100.00. The substance was confirmed to be 0.6 gram of methamphetamine by a criminalist at the Missouri State Highway Patrol Crime Lab.

“Without the officers on the Task Force and their willingness to put themselves in harm’s way by going undercover, we would not have been able to remove another violent drug dealer from the streets,” said Taney County Prosecuting Attorney Jeff Merrell about the sentenced handed down today.

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