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April 28, 2018

Prosecuting Attorney Jeff Merrell along with members of the Taney County Drug Court Team had a great training this week at the Drug Court Tune-Up in Springfield, Missouri. The Drug Court Tune-Up provides advanced training to seasoned treatment court teams and teaches the latest research and best practices, while assessing current practices and finding ways to improve.


For more information about the Drug Court Program and how it can help people with addiction problems please visit the National Drug Court Institute at

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April 26, 2018

On Wednesday, April 25, 2018, MICHAEL SHANE TYSON, d/o/b 11-14-1975, of Hollister, pleaded guilty to one (1) count of statutory sodomy first degree, one (1) count of statutory rape first degree, eight (8) counts of sexual exploitation of a minor child and one (1) count of possession of child pornography, in the Circuit Court of Taney County, Missouri. Tyson appeared in custody before Christian County Circuit Judge Jennifer Growcock and admitted to having sexual intercourse and committing acts of sodomy on a minor child. Judge Growcock accepted Tyson’s guilty pleas, ordered a sentencing assessment report to be conducted, and scheduled sentencing for June 28, 2018.

On April 7, 2015, officers from the Hollister Police Department responded to Cox Hospital in reference to a report of a past child molestation. The responding officer made contact with the mother of the child who advised the officer that her child had disclosed that the defendant, the mother’s boyfriend, had been hurting the child. The mother further discovered that the defendant had also been sexually abusing the child. A few days later the child was interviewed at the Lakes Area Child Advocacy Center. During that interview, the child disclosed that the defendant had engaged in several acts of sodomy and rape. The child also disclosed that the defendant recorded some of these incidents on his phone.

On April 10, 2015, based on the disclosures of the child, officers from the Hollister Police Department executed a search warrant at the defendant’s residence. During the search of the residence, officers found an abundance of sex toys and several electronic devices. Detective Sanders of the Hollister Police Department sent those electronic devices to MOCIC (Mid-States Organized Crime Information Center) for review. Analysts at MOCIC later advised Detective Sanders that several images and videos of child pornography were found on the defendant’s electronic devices.

Statutory sodomy in the first degree committed between 2012 and 2015 was an unclassified felony with a range of punishment for life imprisonment or for a term of years not less than ten (10) years. Statutory rape in the first degree committed between 2012 and 2015 was an unclassified felony with a range of punishment for life imprisonment or for a term of years not less than ten (10) years. Sexual exploitation of a minor child committed between 2012 and 2015 was a class A felony with a range of punishment of not less than ten (10) years and not to exceed thirty (30) years, or life imprisonment. Possession of child pornography committed in 2015 was a class C felony with a range of punishment of two (2) to seven (7) years and a $5,000 fine. Pursuant to a plea agreement with the Taney County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Tyson’s sentence is set at twenty (20) years in prison for the aforementioned State charges, and the Prosecutor’s Office will argue for Tyson’s sentence to run consecutively to a thirty (30) year federal sentence Tyson is currently serving. This case was prosecuted by Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Shana Mora.

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April 20, 2018

Taney County Prosecuting Attorney Jeffrey M. Merrell announced today that THOMAS BURRUS, d/o/b 12-01-1990 of Powersite, Missouri plead guilty without an agreement to the class D felony of failing to comply with the requirements of a registered sex offender as a prior and persistent felony offender.

On September 13, 2017 a vehicle being driven by THOMAS BURRUS was stopped for expired registration on State Hwy 76 and Aqua Road. During the traffic stop it was learned that THOMAS BURRUS had a suspended driver’s license as well as a prior conviction for felony sexual assault and was currently non-compliant in his registration requirements. During their investigation, the Taney County Sheriff’s Department learned that THOMAS BURRUS was no longer residing at the residence he previously reported to law enforcement in violation of the State of Missouri sex offender registration requirements. Missouri law requires that any change in name or residence be provided to the chief law enforcement officer of the County, normally the Sheriff, within three business days.

Formal sentencing is set for June 27th, 2018 at 1:00pm in front of Taney County Judge Eric Eighmy. As a prior and persistent felony offender, THOMAS BURRUS faces a range of punishment of three to ten years in the Department of Corrections, or up to one year in the Taney County Jail and/or a fine not to exceed ten-thousand dollars (10,000), or by both imprisonment and a fine. As a part of the plea THOMAS BURRUS also plead without an agreement to the class D misdemeanor of driving while license suspended.

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April 20, 2018

JUSTIN A. DECKER, d/o/b October 16, 1985, of Branson, Missouri entered an Alford plea of guilty in front of Associate Circuit Judge Eric Eighmy to the class C felony of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute as a prior and persistent drug offender. Decker announced his intent to enter a guilty plea on April 17th, the day before his case was set to go before a Stone County jury for trial on a change of venue requested by Decker.

On August 19, 2017, Decker was a passenger in a vehicle which was stopped for having no front plate in Branson. Decker had numerous warrants out for his arrest and was detained as part of the stop. Tygo, Branson’s K9 service animal, was deployed and detected the presence of drugs in the vehicle. The driver of the vehicle was found with numerous controlled substances, including alprazolam, methadone and heroin, and a digital scale was found in the vehicle. When questioned about the substances, Decker acknowledged that he intended on selling the drugs for the driver of the vehicle.

By entering an Alford plea, Decker agrees that the State could present enough evidence at trial to be found guilty by a judge or jury, but does not formally admit his guilt.

“I appreciate the hard work of the Branson Police Department and my staff in pulling this case together so quickly for trial as it was set for jury trial just two weeks ago,” said Taney County Prosecuting Attorney Jeffrey M. Merrell in response to the last minute plea of guilty.

Decker was sentenced by Judge Eighmy to ten (10) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections following a short argument by the State and his attorney. As a prior and persistent drug offender with two prior convictions for drug distribution related offenses, Decker was facing a class A felony range of punishment – between ten (10) years and life, or thirty (30) years in the Department of Corrections.

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