April 13, 2016
On Wednesday, April 13, 2016, Circuit Court Judge Laura Johnson sentenced MICHAEL L. DODSON, d/o/b 12-21-1967, of Branson, to fourteen (14) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections for driving while intoxicated. The sentence followed Dodson’s guilty plea to the class B felony of driving while intoxicated on February 11, 2016.
“Thankfully,” said Taney County Prosecutor Jeff Merrell, “the judges in Taney County recognize the danger that drunk drivers present to the community. Fortunately, this was not a situation in which someone was injured. To the benefit of our entire community, Judge Johnson sentenced Mr. Dodson to prison – where he can’t drink and drive for the next several years.”
Chief-Assistant Prosecutor Tiffany Yarnell, of the Taney County Prosecutor’s Office, argued for Dodson to be sentenced to eighteen (18) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections. The danger drunk drivers present to the safety of others, and the fact that Dodson had eleven (11) previous alcohol-related driving convictions, formed the support for the prosecution’s argument for an eighteen (18) year sentence.
On February 23, 2012, Missouri State Highway Patrol Trooper Terry Bible was on routine patrol on Missouri Highway 165, when he observed Dodson’s vehicle cross the center line multiple times. Once Trooper Bible contacted Dodson, he smelled the odor of intoxicants. Dodson admitted to the Trooper that his driver’s license was suspended for alcohol convictions, and that he probably could not pass field sobriety tests at that moment. Eventually, Dodson submitted a breath sample that showed his blood-alcohol content was .083% – which exceeds the limit allowed by Missouri law.
Driving while intoxicated, as a first offense, is normally a class B misdemeanor, and handled by the Associate Circuit Courts. However, this was Dodson’s twelfth alcohol-related driving conviction, classifying Dodson as a “chronic” D.W.I. offender. The range of punishment for a class B felony is not less than five (5) years in prison and not more than fifteen (15) years in prison. Because Dodson is also a prior and persistent felony offender – having two (2) or more prior felony convictions – he had faced an enhanced maximum punishment of up to thirty (30) years in prison.
April 8, 2016
MONTY R. BARROWS, d/o/b 3-10-1963, of Forsyth, was sentenced to ten (10) years in prison on Thursday, April 7, 2016, in the Circuit Court of Taney County, for the class B felony of possession of controlled substance with intent to distribute. Judge Laura Johnson sentenced Barrows based upon a plea agreement between Barrows and the Taney County Prosecutor’s Office.
On February 22, 2015, Taney County Sheriff’s deputies conducted a traffic stop on U.S. Highway 160 near Davidson Road, in Kissee Mills. During a consent search of the vehicle, deputies found a black bag containing several grams of a white crystal substance and items of drug paraphernalia. Barrows was a passenger in the vehicle, but the driver identified the black bag as belonging to Barrows. The crystal substance was confirmed by chemical testing to be methamphetamine.
The class B felony of possession of controlled substance with intent to distribute carries a range of punishment of from five (5) years up to fifteen (15) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections.
April 1, 2016
March 30, 2016
There exists a threat to the children of our community. According to a 2005 report by the Center for Disease Control, 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually molested prior to age eighteen (18).
Law enforcement agencies – including prosecutors’ offices – are in the business of reacting to reports of child physical and sexual abuse. However, most of these child-victims do not report the abuse. Only a small portion of actual child abuse is reported to, and investigated by law enforcement. In total, only about 3 to 5% of child abusers are ever prosecuted and convicted.
So, what if – rather than merely reacting – law enforcement tried working with the rest of the community in an effort to prevent the harm from occurring?
This is the goal of a group of community leaders within the City of Forsyth, who have been meeting the past couple of months. These men and women have joined together to participate in a child protection task force that is still taking shape.
Taking a community-wide approach to child abuse prevention is a huge task, but it is not an impossible task. Hopefully, over the next few years, the City of Forsyth can create a culture of child abuse prevention that can work as a model to take to the other communities of Taney County.
April is Child Abuse & Neglect Prevention month, and April 8, 2016, has been declared “Go Blue Day” by the Children’s Trust Fund of Missouri. While Forsyth’s community task force continues to take shape, please join together in a show of support for child abuse prevention by wearing blue on Friday, April 8th.
We all have a responsibility to help prevent child abuse, and it is only through working together that we will create a safer environment for our children.
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