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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.

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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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September 12, 2016

ROBERT LEE CAMPBELL, d/o/b 7-09-1944, of Willard, was sentenced Monday afternoon, September 12, 2016, in the Circuit Court of Jasper County, by Judge Gayle Crane, after being found guilty of murder in the second degree by a jury, in July. Judge Crane accepted the Jasper County jury’s recommendation of life on both counts of murder in the second degree, and, after hearing arguments on Monday, ordered that the life terms run consecutively with each other.

On July 13, 2016, the Jasper County jury returned two (2) guilty verdicts against Campbell for murder in the second degree, for Campbell’s role in soliciting the murders of Russell and Rebecca Porter, in April of 2011. The jury deliberated for several hours before reaching its verdicts. Following the guilty verdicts, the same jury heard evidence on sentencing, and delivered recommendations of life for each of the two (2) counts. Campbell’s trial was heard in Jasper County on a change of venue from Taney County – where Russell and Rebecca Porter’s remains were discovered in July of 2011.

Life is the maximum sentence for the class A felony of murder in the second degree. Life is generally calculated as thirty (30) years, by Missouri’s Department of Corrections.

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September 9, 2016

BRYAN J. MATLOCK, d/o/b 10-15-1986, of Hollister, entered guilty pleas on Friday afternoon, September 9th, to the class B felony of abuse of a child and the class C felony of endangering the welfare of a child in the first degree, in the Circuit Court of Taney County. Visiting Judge Craig Carter accepted Matlock’s guilty pleas, and scheduled sentencing for December 19, 2016.

On August 26, 2015, Matlock called 9-1-1 because his infant child was having difficulty breathing and was unresponsive. Matlock told Taney County Sheriff’s deputies that he had accidentally fallen on the child, then waited up to twenty (20) minutes after the child was injured to call 9-1-1. Later that day, doctors determined that the infant had serious injuries – including a subdural and subarachnoid hemorrhage and fractured rib, along with bruises and a possible bite mark – which doctors concluded were non-accidental.

Eventually, Matlock confessed to a Taney County detective that he had swung the infant by the feet as the child struck the wooden trim on a couch, had thrown the child on the couch multiple times, had squeezed the child, and had bitten the child that day. Matlock also admitted he had been physically abusing the child in the weeks preceding August 26, 2015. Matlock’s explanation for his abuse of the infant was that the child would not stop crying.

The class B felony of abuse of a child carries a range of punishment from five (5) to fifteen (15) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections. The class C felony of endangering the welfare of a child in the first degree carries a maximum sentence of seven (7) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections and/or a $5,000.00 fine.

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