May 17, 2013
On Thursday, May 16, 2013, in the Circuit Court of Taney County, KENNETH RAY BEAMS, d/o/b: 4/13/1985, of Hollister, entered a guilty plea to two (2) felony charges, and was sentenced to Circuit Court Judge Mark Orr to ten (10) years in prison. Beams pleaded guilty to the class B felony of assaulting a law enforcement officer and the unclassified felony of armed criminal action. Pursuant to a plea agreement, Beams received a sentence of ten (10) years on each count, to be concurrent to each other.
The charges resulted from a traffic stop of a Dodge passenger car initiated by a Taney County Deputy on April 3, 2013, at the intersection of Iowa Colony and Timber Ridge roads. The stop originated due to the Dodge passenger car having license plates that were registered to a Jeep. Once the Dodge pulled into a driveway, the deputy exited his patrol car and began to make contact with the driver, whom he identified as Kenneth Ray Beams. However, the Dodge slowly started to drive away, while the deputy shouted commands at Beams to stop the car. Rather than stopping the car, Beams accelerated the Dodge in the direction of the deputy, while the deputy was able to safely jump behind his patrol vehicle. Beams successfully escaped in the Dodge from that traffic stop, then was pursued by officers onto Highway 65. While officers attempted to get into position to throw out spike strips to slow the Dodge, Beams swerved the car in the direction of the officers, causing the pursuit to be halted. Beams was apprehended the next day after being hospitalized due to an ATV crash.
The class B felony of assaulting a law enforcement officer in the second degree carries a range of punishment of five (5) years to fifteen (15) years or life in prison. Armed criminal action carries minimum penalty of three (3) years in prison and no maximum sentence.
May 16, 2013
Taney County Prosecuting Attorney, Jeff Merrell, announced today that PHILLIP FRIEND, DOB: 8/28/1986, of Kansas City, Missouri, – and formerly of Springfield, Missouri, – entered a guilty plea Thursday morning, May 16, 2013, to four (4) felonies, in the Taney County Circuit Court. Friend pleaded guilty to two (2) counts of murder in the second degree and two (2) counts of felonious restraint. Pursuant to a plea agreement between Phillip Friend and the Taney County Prosecutor’s Office, two (2) counts of armed criminal action were dismissed. Circuit Court Judge Mark Orr accepted Friend’s guilty plea, sentencing Friend to seven (7) years in prison for each of the two (2) counts of felonious restraint. Sentencing on the two (2) counts of murder has been continued to a future date, not yet determined. Pursuant to the plea agreement, Friend’s sentences are to be concurrent.
Phillip Friend had previously been charged with two (2) counts of murder in the first degree for his role in the disappearance and deaths of Russell and Rebecca Porter, of Willard, Missouri, occurring April 18, 2011. Phillip’s father, Tony Friend, still faces first-degree murder charges, along with Dusty Hicks, Robert Campbell, and Tony Friend’s wife, Windy Friend.
Murder in the second degree carries a range of punishment of ten (10) years to thirty (30) years or life in prison. Felonious restraint has a maximum penalty of up to seven (7) years in prison and/or a fine not to exceed $5,000.00.
May 15, 2013
Another high school prom season has come and gone, and Taney County high-schoolers had a drug-free and alcohol-free option for after-prom parties. Thanks to the Branson IMAX Theater and Taney County ADAPT prom-goers could watch movies and enjoy snacks, all in a safe, drug-free environment.
“This is a great event that gives young people an alternative to risky, after-prom activities that may involve drugs or alcohol,” states Taney County Prosecuting Attorney Jeff Merrell. “The after-prom event is one of the many good reasons my office has been active with the ADAPT team. It is something I hope will be continued in future years. The event would not be possible, though, without the generosity of the IMAX Theater and Randy Brashers. Our entire community should acknowledge this outstanding contribution.”
May 3, 2013
Jeremy B. Pennington, d/o/b 3-14-1978, of Kimberling City, Missouri, pleaded guilty and was sentenced in three (3) felony cases on Thursday, May 2, 2013, in the Circuit Court of Taney County. Circuit Court Judge Mark Orr sentenced Pennington to four (4) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections on each of the three (3) cases, pursuant to a plea agreement with the State.
In one case, Pennington pleaded guilty to the class D felony of unlawful use of a weapon stemming from an incident July 1, 2011, in which he exhibited a pocket knife toward a woman in an angry and threatening manner. On July 22, 2011, while out on bond for the unlawful use of a weapon case, Pennington stole a credit card of a co-worker in Branson and used it at Wal-Mart. Pennington pleaded guilty to the class C felony of stealing a credit device for that offense. Finally, Pennington stole a truck from a convenience store in Branson on July 9, 2012, – again, while out on bond – when the owner of the truck left the keys in the ignition while inside shopping. Pennington entered a guilty plea to the class C felony of stealing a motor vehicle for committing that offense.
The maximum prison sentence for the class D felony of unlawful use of a weapon is four (4) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections. The maximum prison sentence for the class C felonies of stealing a credit device and stealing a motor vehicle is seven (7) years.
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