Taney County Prosecuting Attorney Jeffrey Merrell announced today that ZACHARY LEE PAYNE, dob: 05/13/1981, of Springfield, Missouri, entered a guilty plea, pursuant to a plea agreement with the Taney County Prosecutor’s Office, to the class C felony of domestic assault in the second degree. As a result of the plea, Payne was sentenced by Circuit Court Judge Mark Orr to serve a sentence of eight (8) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections.

On December 4, 2011, Dispatchers had received a 9-1-1 call and could hear a female struggling with an intruder while on the phone. Deputy Chris Gill, with the Taney County Sheriff’s Office, was dispatched to an address on Spring Meadows Parkway, in Branson, to investigate the call as a possible burglary in progress. While en route, he met a Mercury passenger car speeding away from the Spring Meadows Parkway address. Deputy Bobby Sanderson initiated a traffic stop on the Mercury, once it was determined that the burglary suspect had fled the scene in a Mercury Sable. The automobile was being driven by Payne.

The victim explained to deputies that she and Payne had been dating, but had fought earlier that night. Payne had arrived at the residence demanding that victim let him into the house to get some clothes, but she told him to leave. That is when Payne kicked down the door. The victim explained that Payne burst inside and assaulted her by pushing her down and attempting to strangle her. She described how Payne put his arm around her neck and tried to “choke her out”. After Payne let her go, he walked out and got into his car to leave. The victim said she went outside and tried to stop him from leaving, at which time Payne pulled out of the driveway and turned his vehicle towards her and tried to run her over.

This is a class C Felony offense and the range of punishment is one (1) day to one (1) year in the Taney County Jail, or up to seven (7) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections, and/or a fine not to exceed $5,000. However, Payne was charged by the prosecutor’s office as a prior and persistent felony offender, because he had at least two (2) previous felony convictions. That enhanced the maximum range of punishment for Payne’s offense to a term of imprisonment not to exceed fifteen (15) years.