November 2, 2015
STEVEN W. HEAPER, d/o/b 6-03-1975, of Branson, pleaded guilty to the class B felony of driving while intoxicated on Wednesday, October 28, 2015, in the Circuit Court of Taney County. Heaper appeared before Circuit Court Judge Laura Johnson via a closed-caption video feed from the Missouri Department of Corrections, where he is already serving another sentence. Pursuant to a plea agreement with the Taney County Prosecutor’s Office, Heaper was sentenced to eight (8) years in prison, in exchange for his guilty plea.
Heaper was charged because on May 28, 2013, at just after 2:00 a.m., Trooper Evan Tyrrell with the Missouri State Highway Patrol initiated a traffic stop after he observed a white passenger car traveling east on Missouri Highway 76, traveling partially in the center turn lane and partially in the eastbound lane. When the Trooper contacted Heaper, he noticed the strong odor of intoxicants, and Heaper admitted to drinking some alcohol earlier in the night. A search of the vehicle revealed a partial bottle of whiskey between the driver’s side door and the driver’s seat. Heaper also admitted to using methamphetamine a few hours prior to the traffic stop. When attempting to perform field sobriety tests, Heaper performed poorly and showed numerous signs of impairment.
Heaper was charged with the class B felony of driving while intoxicated because he had previously been found guilty of D.W.I.-related offenses four (4) times, making him a chronic D.W.I. offender. Heaper was also charged as a prior and persistent felony offender, based upon his multiple past felony convictions. First-time and second-time D.W.I. offenses are generally heard in the Associate Circuit Courts, in Missouri, while third-time and higher D.W.I. offenses – like in this case – are felonies heard in the Circuit Court.
October 30, 2015
On Wednesday, October 28, 2015, Taney County Circuit Court Judge Laura Johnson accepted a guilty plea from TRAVIS JOHNSON, d/o/b 8-10-1987, of Taneyville, to the class D felony of driving while intoxicated. Johnson’s trial was scheduled to begin on Wednesday, but he avoided the trial by admitting his guilt, without any plea agreement with the Taney County Prosecutor’s Office concerning what sentence he will receive. Judge Laura Johnson scheduled the sentencing for December 17, 2015.
The evidence against Johnson was that, on March 1, 2013, deputies with the Taney County Sheriff’s Office noticed a van traveling on Forsyth-Taneyville road crossing into the oncoming lane of traffic multiple times. Deputy Darin Carter made a traffic stop, and identified the driver as Travis Johnson. Johnson seemed dazed and slow to respond to questions, and the deputy could smell the odor of intoxicants coming from the vehicle. Throughout the investigation – including the administration of field sobriety tests – Johnson had a difficult time following instructions and showed multiple signs of impairment. Johnson admitted that he had been drinking alcohol and stated that he was drunk. A breath sample revealed Travis Johnson’s blood alcohol content to be 0.143%. Johnson’s two small children were present in the van at the time of the stop, as well as another adult passenger.
Because of his two (2) previous guilty pleas to misdemeanor D.W.I., Johnson was charged as a persistent D.W.I. offender – a class D felony. The maximum sentence Johnson faces is up to four (4) years in prison and/or a $5,000.00 fine.
October 26, 2015
SHANE R. MARX, d/o/b 3-09-1977, of Rockaway Beach, was sentenced to seven (7) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections on Thursday, October 22, 2015, for the felonies of forgery, unlawful use of a weapon, possession of burglar’s tools, and two (2) counts of possession of a controlled substance. Taney County Circuit Court Judge Laura Johnson sentenced Marx pursuant to a plea agreement Marx had with the Taney County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.
In September of 2014, Marx and a female companion were arrested at Tanger Mall, in Branson, for suspicion of shoplifting. During that investigation, methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia were found in Marx’s possession. During his arrest and booking at the jail, Marx lied about his identity and forged someone else’s signature on the booking documents. Analysis of fingerprints alerted officers to Marx’s true identity.
Marx was out of custody on a $10,000.00 surety bond for the September 2014 case, when, in July of 2015, Marx was contacted by Branson Police during an investigation into a suspected burglary. Officers arrived at a building where a security alarm was sounding, and found Marx with a backpack full of tools commonly used to break-into buildings and vending machines. Marx was also found in possession of a concealed firearm, methamphetamine, and drug paraphernalia during the investigation. Branson Police believed Marx could be responsible for a rash of vending machine break-ins throughout the spring and summer of 2015.
The five (5) separate seven (7) year prison sentences are to run concurrently with one another.
October 16, 2015
On Thursday, October 15, 2015, GABRIEL E. ROBINSON, d/o/b 7-10-1991, of Branson, pleaded guilty to receiving stolen property and possession of a controlled substance, before Taney County Associate Circuit Judge Eric Eighmy. Judge Eighmy sentenced Robinson to five (5) years in prison for each felony, pursuant to a plea agreement between Robinson and the Taney County Prosecutor’s Office.
During an investigation by Branson Police into a series of automobile break-ins in April of 2015, Robinson was found with a stolen iPad and a plastic baggie containing a small amount of methamphetamine residue. The same iPad in Robinson’s possession had been reported stolen from a car in Branson just two (2) days earlier.
Receiving stolen property and possession of methamphetamine are both class C felonies. A class C felony carries a maximum penalty of seven (7) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections and/or a $5,000.00 fine. Robinson’s sentences are to run concurrently.
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