June 23, 2015
A Taney County jury found DONALD C. BILLINGS, d/o/b 4-13-1966, of Kirbyville, guilty of the class D felony of driving while intoxicated, on Tuesday, June 23, 2015. The nine-woman, three-man jury deliberated for just less than one hour before arriving at the unanimous verdict. Chief Assistant Prosecutor Tiffany Yarnell tried the case for the Taney County Prosecutor’s Office.
Billings was arrested by a Trooper with the Missouri State Highway Patrol for driving while intoxicated, on May 4, 2013. Billings crashed a Nissan Altima into some trees after failing to negotiate a curve on Missouri Highway 76, near Delaware Road. Neither Billings, nor his passenger were seriously injured. Billings refused field sobriety tests and tried to convince the Trooper that he was not driving the vehicle. However, eye witnesses observed Billings exiting the driver’s seat of the car immediately after the crash. Billings admitted that he had been drinking, but refused to give a sample of his breath or blood to the Trooper.
Circuit Court Judge Laura Johnson scheduled sentencing for Billings for August 13, 2015. The class D felony of driving while intoxicated carries a maximum penalty of four (4) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections and/or a $5,000.00 fine. Billings was charged with the class D felony because he had previously pleaded guilty to two (2) prior DWIs in Taney County, making Billings a persistent DWI offender.
June 19, 2015
STEVEN K. MEEKS, d/o/b 11-09-1964, of Branson, was sentenced by Taney County Circuit Court Judge Laura Johnson on Thursday, June 18, 2015, to ten (10) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections, for the clall B felony of driving while intoxicated. The sentence was part of a plea agreement that would allow Meeks to argue to be sentenced to a one-year treatment program in the Missouri Department of Corrections, while the Taney County Prosecutor’s Office would argue for the ten (10) year sentence.
Meeks was arrested by a trooper with the Missouri State Highway Patrol for driving while intoxicated in the early morning hours of December 22, 2013, on Highway 76, in Branson. His blood-alcohol level was 0.15%. As it turned out, Meeks had at least five (5) prior alcohol-related offenses on his record, which enhanced his charge from a class B misdemeanor to a class B felony.
The range of punishment for a class B felony is five (5) to fifteen (15) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections. “First-time DWI offenses are typically class B misdemeanors, and second-time DWI offenses are typically class A misdemeanors,” says Taney County Prosecutor Jeff Merrell. “Circuit Court Judge Laura Johnson will only preside over felony DWI cases, where the defendant has multiple prior DWI convictions. This was the scenario with Mr. Meeks’ case.”
Merrell goes on to say, “these repeat DWI offenders present a clear danger to our community. At some point, the only way to protect our citizens is to lock these offenders up so they can’t drive drunk.”
June 12, 2015
On Friday, June 12, 2015, ANGELA J. HARRIS a/k/a ANGELA J. LANDA, d/o/b 11-07-1976, was sentenced to three (3) years in prison for a pair of class D felony stealing cases by Christian County Judge Doug Bacon – having been assigned to Harris’ Taney County cases. Bacon ordered Harris’ three (3) year sentences to be served concurrently with each other, but consecutively with a previous seven (7) year sentence – pursuant to a plea agreement between the defendant and the Taney County Prosecutor’s Office. The seven (7) year sentence had been suspended when Harris was placed on probation for class C felony of stealing items valued at over $500.00, in 2014. The end result Friday was that Harris received ten (10) years in prison sentences to serve.
Harris was charged after being caught shoplifting from Ulta Beauty, at Branson Hills Parkway, on January 5, 2015, and January 13, 2015. Although Harris only stole items of less than $100 on each occasion, Harris had previously been convicted of stealing-related offenses at least twice. Because of her prior convictions, the Taney County Prosecutor’s Office was able to charge Harris with the class D felony of stealing in each case, rather than a class A misdemeanor.
The maximum punishment for the class D felony of stealing is four (4) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections and/or a $5,000.00 fine.
June 5, 2015
RYAN LEVI JOHNSON, d/o/b 10-18-1980, of Bradleyville, Missouri, was sentenced to twelve (12) years in prison Thursday, June 4, 2015, by Taney County Judge Eric Eighmy, for the class B felony of attempt to manufacture a controlled substance. Judge Eighmy – acting for Circuit Court Judge Laura Johnson – accepted Ryan Johnson’s guilty plea and sentenced him pursuant to a plea agreement with the Taney County Prosecutor’s Office.
The felony charge resulted from a traffic stop on January 17, 2015, in Taneyville, Missouri. Johnson was stopped after a report of suspicious activity at Scooter’s convenience store, and arrested for driving with a revoked license. Taney County Sheriff’s deputies then located a methamphetamine lab, along with meth lab components, inside Johnson’s pickup. Upon questioning, Johnson admitted to manufacturing meth for his personal use.
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