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October 2, 2015

SEAN D. ROBERSON, d/o/b 7-27-1988, was found guilty Friday, October 2, 2015, by a Greene County jury of voluntary manslaughter, assault in the first degree, armed criminal action, and burglary in the first degree. The eight-man, four-woman jury deliberated for over ten (10) hours before arriving at its unanimous verdict. The Taney County Prosecutor’s Office was seeking a conviction against Roberson for the crime of murder in the first degree, rather than voluntary manslaughter – the jury found Roberson guilty as charged of the remaining three (3) felonies.

The evidence presented was that Roberson had threatened to kill his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend on March 15, 2013, and then was discovered hiding in that man’s apartment with a knife on March 29, 2013. The jury heard that Roberson chased the man from the apartment, threw the knife at the man, then led police on a pursuit that lasted about four (4) hours – until Roberson was finally arrested in Lake Taneycomo. It was only after Roberson’s intended victim re-entered his apartment that his brother was discovered deceased, fully clothed in a bathtub filled with water. A pathologist testified that the manner of death was homicide, and the deceased had most-likely been manually strangled – although drowning could not be ruled-out as a possible cause of death. Investigators later searched Roberson’s cell phone and discovered texts he had sent to a family member indicating that he had “tried to kill” the intended victim and “did his brother”, and another text that explained he “wanted revenge.”

Roberson testified in his own defense that he had gone to the apartment to make amends with the man who was dating his ex-girlfriend, and that the man’s brother initiated a fight with him. Roberson tried to explain that he had accidentally strangled the deceased while trying to restrain him in the fight. After trying to resuscitate the deceased, Roberson testified that he panicked and hid within the apartment. Roberson said that his pursuit of the man with the knife was a misunderstanding, and that he did not throw the knife, but, rather, dropped it down the stairs in the direction of the intended victim. Rather than call 9-1-1, Roberson admitted that he fled the crime scene and sent the incriminating texts while fleeing from police. In explaining the texts, Roberson said that he did not mean “tried to kill” or “wanted revenge” in the way most people do.

Although the crimes were committed in Branson, the case was tried in Greene County due to a change of venue motion filed by the defendant. Greene County Division One Circuit Court Judge Michael Cordonnier scheduled sentencing for December 11, 2015, at 8:30 a.m.

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September 18, 2015

LOUIS W. HOOVER, d/o/b 4-16-1992, of Forsyth, was sentenced to six (6) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections on Thursday, September 17, 2015, for committing the class C felony of stealing. Hoover’s sentence was handed-down by Taney County Circuit Court Judge Laura Johnson, following a sentencing argument in which Hoover’s lawyer argued for the judge to place Hoover on probation.

Hoover pleaded guilty to this stealing charge on July 23, 2015, and remained in jail pending his sentencing on Thursday. The State’s evidence was that in June of 2014, Hoover admitted to a Taney County Sheriff’s deputy to stealing jewelry and other valuable personal items from two (2) women he had been living with, and that he sold the valuables to a local pawn shop. The thefts had occurred over the course of several months. Hoover also admitted to a deputy that he was using the cash from the stolen items to pay his costs and supervision fees for a stealing case from 2012 – for which he was on supervised probation.

The class C felony of stealing carries a maximum penalty of seven (7) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections and/or a $5,000.00 fine.

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September 4, 2015

On September 2, 2015, long time victim advocate for the Taney County Prosecutor’s Office, Sally Catlett, was given the 2015 Outstanding Service to Victims Award from the Missouri Victim Services Academy. The award was presented at the annual banquet of the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, at Tan-Tar-A Resort, Lake of the Ozarks. Catlett is in her seventeenth year as victim advocate for the prosecutor’s office, and plans to retire later this month.

The award is given annually in honor of a victim advocate in Missouri who has made a positive impact on victim advocacy and gone “above and beyond” in his or her service to victims. Catlett was nominated for the award by her co-workers in the Taney County Prosecutor’s Office. The Missouri Victim Services Academy gives a similar award each year to a prosecutor in Missouri who exhibits exceptional work with victims of crime.

“We are very sad to see Sally retire after these many years of service,” said Taney County Prosecutor Jeff Merrell. “We understand her need to move on to new endeavors, but we will miss her.”

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September 3, 2015

On Thursday, September 3, 2015, HOWARD BRADLEY GOTT, d/o/b 7-24-1968, of Squires, Missouri, was found guilty by a Stone County Jury of assault in the second degree and armed criminal action. The six (6) man and six (6) woman jury deliberated for just over two-and-a-half hours before reaching the unanimous verdicts on the two (2) felony charges. Stone County Circuit Court Judge Jack Goodman scheduled sentencing for December 8, 2015.

The verdict relates to Gott’s assault of another man – who was fishing with Gott – at the Big Creek area of Bull Shoals Lake, in Taney County, near the Ozark County line. The evidence was that on March 13, 2014, Gott attacked the victim from behind, and stabbed the victim in the neck and chest multiple times before the victim could push Gott from the boat. Fishermen on the shore also witnessed the stabbing and called 9-1-1. The victim was able to be flown out to receive medical treatment, and Gott was arrested almost immediately.

Although the stabbing occurred in Taney County, the case was moved to Stone County on the defendant’s change of venue motion. Taney County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Tiffany Yarnell prosecuted the case for the State. Assault in the second degree carries a maximum punishment of seven (7) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections and/or a $5,000.00 fine. Armed criminal action is an unclassified felony with a minimum sentence of three (3) years and no maximum sentence.

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