August 24, 2016
On Wednesday, August 24, 2016, in the Circuit Court of Taney County, GREGORY M. JOHNSON a/k/a GREGOR JOHNSON, d/o/b 5-24-1981, of Branson, was sentenced to twenty (20) years in prison for the class A felony of pharmacy robbery in the first degree, twenty (20) years in prison for the unclassified felony of armed criminal action, and seven (7) years in prison for the class C felony of unlawful possession of a concealable firearm. Circuit Court Judge Laura Johnson sentenced the defendant after hearing arguments from the Taney County Prosecutor’s office and defendant’s lawyer for well over an hour. Defendant had entered his guilty plea on May 19, 2016, without any plea agreement with the Taney County Prosecutor’s Office.
Johnson’s convictions stem from his armed robbery of a pharmacy in Branson, on September 30, 2016, where he entered the business wearing a ski mask and brandishing a .45 caliber automatic handgun, demanding oxycodone pills from the employees. As Johnson was being handed a bag of pills, a pharmacist shot Johnson in the chest. Johnson fled the pharmacy, dropping the bag of pills, and firing his handgun in the direction of the employees. Johnson was found a short time later driving the vehicle he had fled the crime scene in. When interviewed by Detective Shane Keys of the Taney County Sheriff’s Office, Johnson confessed to committing the robbery. Johnson explained that his wife had stitched-up his gunshot wound and helped him dispose of his bloody clothes.
Johnson had a previous conviction from Colorado for felony tampering, which made his possession of the handgun a separate felony charge. The class A felony of pharmacy robbery carries a minimum sentence of ten (10) calendar years in the Missouri Department of Corrections – without the possibility of parole – and a maximum penalty of thirty (30) years. The felony of armed criminal action carries minimum punishment of three (3) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections – without the possibility of parole – and no maximum sentence. The class C felony of unlawful possession of a concealable firearm carries a maximum penalty of seven (7) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections and/or a $5,000.00 fine.
August 8, 2016
Taney County Prosecuting Attorney Jeffrey M. Merrell announced that Friday, August 5, 2016, JOSHUA E. HOLLER a/k/a JOSHUA HOLLAR, d/o/b: 6-13-1986, of Branson, was sentenced by Christian County Associate Circuit Court Judge Doug Bacon to twelve (12) years in prison for the class B felony of abuse of a child. The sentence was the result of a plea agreement Holler made with the Taney County Prosecutor’s Office.
The felony charge stemmed from a call for emergency medical assistance that was needed for a sixteen-month-old child at an apartment on Cannonball Loop, in Branson, on July 31, 2015. The child was transported by ambulance to the hospital, where doctors determined that the child had suffered multiple serious, non-accidental injuries to his head and face. When questioned, Holler told investigators that he had tripped and fallen on the child while Holler was vacuuming the floor in the apartment, on July 28, 2015. Holler’s explanation did not match the injuries to the child, according to the child’s doctors.
The class B felony of abuse of a child carries a maximum sentence of not more than fifteen (15) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections.
July 15, 2016
PHILIP W. RASMUSSEN, d/o/b 4-09-1960, of Branson, was found guilty of the class C felony of assault in the second degree by a Taney County jury, on Tuesday, July 12, 2016. The five-man, seven-woman jury deliberated for one-hour before delivering the guilty verdict, in the Circuit Court of Taney County. Judge Laura Johnson scheduled formal sentencing in Rasmussen’s case for September 15, 2016. Taney County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Thomas Kondro tried the case for the State of Missouri.
Rasmussen was charged with assault in the first degree after he punched a man in the throat on July 23, 2014, outside the Good Shepherd Inn, on Highway 76, in Branson. The victim had been directed by motel managers to ask Rasmussen to leave the premises, and – when he advised Rasmussen he needed to leave – Rasmussen struck the victim, chased the victim a short distance, and threw him over a chain-link fence. The victim suffered a fractured trachea that required surgery.
Because Rasmussen did not testify in his own defense, the jury did not get to hear about Rasmussen’s criminal history – which includes a Kentucky conviction for first-degree manslaughter. Rasmussen was also on parole in Arkansas for battery at the time he committed this assault. The maximum penalty for 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.
July 14, 2016
ROBERT LEE CAMPBELL, d/o/b 7-09-1944, of Willard, Missouri, was found guilty of two (2) counts of murder in the second degree on Wednesday, July 13, 2016, in the Circuit Court of Jasper County, in Joplin. The six-man, six-woman jury deliberated for approximately ten (10) hours from July 12th through July 13th before arriving at the verdicts. Following a brief sentencing hearing, the same jury returned a recommendation of life sentences on both counts. Jasper County Circuit Court Judge Gayle Crane, scheduled formal sentencing for September 12, 2016.
Campbell was indicted by a Taney County grand jury in December of 2012 on two (2) counts of murder in the first degree, stemming from allegations that he had arranged for his brother-in-law, Tony Friend, to kidnap and murder Russell and Rebecca Porter on April 18, 2011, while Campbell was out-of-town. Tony Friend pleaded guilty in 2013, and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
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