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PROM SEASON DESERVES REMINDER TO COMMUNITY ABOUT UNDERAGE DRINKING

April 10, 2018

Prom is being held for many local schools in April and May, and that means the end of the school year is just around the corner. Graduation for seniors – and summer vacation for all teens – is just a few weeks away. What better time for a sobering reminder to parents to address underage drinking with their children?

During the summer months, many teens have more freedom than during school. Also, many teens have jobs and free time to party with friends. For these reasons, summer can present increased opportunities and risks for underage drinking for some teens. If you think that teens are not drinking, please consider the national and local statistics on underage drinking:
• Even though drinking by anyone under the age of 21 is illegal in the U.S., people aged 12 to 20 years drank 11% of all alcohol consumed in the United States this year. On average 26.4% of underage drinkers (10.8 million persons aged 12 to 20) used alcohol in the past month.
• A yearly average of 4.2 million young people between the ages of 16 and 20 reported driving under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs during the past year.
• Approximately 5,000 deaths of people under the age of 21 are the result of underage drinking each year.
• The average Missourian’s first use of alcohol occurs at age 13.43 years. In Taney County, the average age of first use is 12.5 – which is typically 7th grade.
• Another serious long-term effect of teenage drinking is that it leads to adult dependence.

The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that teens who start drinking before age 15 are five times more likely to develop alcohol addiction than those who do not begin drinking until age 21.

The good news, however, is this: parents can make a difference in the choices children make about drinking. Studies show that teens whose parents talk to them about alcohol and drugs are 42% less likely to use those substances than teens whose parents do not discuss the issue with them.

Possession of alcohol by a person under age 21 in Missouri is a misdemeanor. As an adult, providing alcohol – or making alcohol available – to someone under age 21, is also a crime. These are crimes in large part because of the negative effects of alcohol on minors.

So, please take these facts and the topic of upcoming prom and graduation events to initiate a discussion with your children about the risks to them of underage drinking. Your kids just might listen.

(For help talking with your children about alcohol and drugs, visit drugfree.org. If you would like to become involved with Taney County’s efforts to reduce and prevent underage drinking, please contact Alaina Williams at williamsac@branson.k12.mo.us for more information about ADAPT – Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Team.)

*This op-ed authored by Jeff Merrell was published in the April 7, 2018, edition of the Branson Tri-Lakes News.

Topics: News, Press Releases |

PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE PROVIDES MANDATED CHILD ABUSE REPORTER TRAINING

April 6, 2018

On Friday morning, April 6, 2018, Taney County Prosecuting Attorney Jeff Merrell provided training to Taneyville School’s educators and staff, along with Chief Assistant Prosecutor Chris Lebeck, on the topic of Mandated Child Abuse Reporting Laws. This morning’s presentation was one of a series of trainings on this topic Merrell and Lebeck have made to Taney County school district professionals.

“This is a very important issue, and an area of Missouri law where much mis-information has been disseminated to educators,” says Merrell. “Through our series of contacts with local schools, our office is making an effort to clarify the legal responsibilities of all school employees. Proper reporting of suspected abuse and neglect is critical to the protection of our children.”

The training is designed to educate school professionals on their statutorily mandated duty to report suspected child abuse and neglect, and the training covered why reporting suspected child abuse is important, the warning signs, and the nuts and bolts of when and how to hotline.

This training was put together by the Taney County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office as a result of a recent appointment as special prosecuting attorney in a case involving school officials in another county and allegations surrounding a failure to report suspected child abuse.

If you have reasonable cause to believe a child has been the victim of physical or sexual abuse, or neglect contact the Missouri Child Abuse/Neglect Hotline Unit (CANHU) on their toll-free at 1-800-392-3738 or visit the online reporting portal at https://apps.dss.mo.gov/OnlineCanReporting/default.aspx.

Topics: News |

MARK BAILEY SENTENCED FOR MURDER OF HOLLISTER MAN

March 30, 2018

MARK T. BAILEY, d/o/b 10-10-1963, of Highlandville, Missouri, was sentenced to 20 (twenty) years in prison for second-degree murder on Friday afternoon, in the Circuit Court of Taney County, by Christian County Circuit Court Judge Laura Johnson. Johnson sentenced Bailey after hearing arguments from Taney County Prosecutor Jeff Merrell and from Bailey’s attorney. In addition to the 20 (twenty) years for murder in the second degree, Bailey was also sentenced to 15 (fifteen) years for kidnapping, and 7 (seven) years for felonious restraint. Pursuant to Bailey’s plea agreement, his sentences were ordered to run concurrently.

Bailey’s guilty pleas stemmed from crimes committed in November of 2015, when Bailey assisted Brandy Shaddox in purchasing zip ties at a local home improvement store; driving 72-year old Larry Adams, of Hollister, to a remote location off Highway 65 in Walnut Shade, Missouri; and leaving the victim bound in a car. Adams died of hypothermia after being abandoned by Bailey and Shaddox, and his body was discovered on November 14, 2015.

“While Mark Bailey was clearly not the most-culpable actor in causing Mr. Adams’ death, the crime would likely not have been able to be completed if not for Bailey’s cooperation with Shaddox,” said Taney County Prosecuting Attorney Jeff Merrell at the time of Bailey’s guilty plea. Brandy Shaddox faces a jury trial for the charge of first-degree murder in Lawrence County, in April. Shaddox’s trial was moved to Lawrence County on a change of venue filed by the lawyer for Shaddox.

Bailey had previously appeared before Judge Johnson on January 22, 2018, and pleaded guilty under the Alford guidelines to the three (3) felonies. By entering his guilty plea under the Alford guidelines, it means that Bailey admits that there is sufficient evidence to support him being convicted of the crimes, but he does not admit responsibility for them. As part of Bailey’s plea agreement with the Taney County Prosecuting Attorney’s office, Bailey’s potential sentence was capped at twenty (20) years in prison, and Bailey’s lawyer was permitted to argue for some sentence less than twenty (20) years at the sentencing hearing.

The class A felony of murder in the second degree carries a range of punishment of ten (10) years up to thirty (30) years or life in the Missouri Department of Corrections. The class B felony of kidnapping carries a range of punishment of five (5) to fifteen (15) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections. The class C felony of felonious restraint carries a maximum sentence of seven (7) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections and/or a fine not to exceed $5,000.00.

Brandy Shaddox is presumed innocent until or unless she is proven guilty in a court of law.

Topics: News, Press Releases |

MANDATED REPORTER TRAINING TODAY WITH THE KIRBYVILLE SCHOOL DISTRICT

March 9, 2018

Taney County Prosecuting Attorney Jeff Merrell presented mandated reporter training to teachers and professionals of the Kirbyville School District this afternoon.  The training is designed to educate school professionals on their statutorily mandated duty to report suspected child abuse and neglect, and the training covered why reporting suspected child abuse is important, the warning signs, and the nuts and bolts of when and how to hotline.

This training was put together by the Taney County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office as a result of a recent appointment as special prosecuting attorney in a case involving school officials in another county and allegations surrounding a failure to report suspected child abuse.

“We are appreciative of Kirbyville’s staff in having us today to discuss mandated reporting and hopefully our presentation has helped clarify how this obligation affects teachers and school professionals,” said Taney County Prosecuting Attorney Jeff Merrell.

This was the second in a series of mandated reporter trainings for school professionals in Taney County by the Taney County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. In April, Merrell will be presenting to the professionals at the Taneyville School District.

If you have reasonable cause to believe a child has been the victim of physical or sexual abuse, or neglect contact the Missouri Child Abuse/Neglect Hotline Unit (CANHU) on their toll-free at 1-800-392-3738 or visit the online reporting portal at https://apps.dss.mo.gov/OnlineCanReporting/default.aspx.

Topics: News |


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