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PRIOR AND PERSISTENT FELON FOUND GUILTY BY JURY OF ASSAULT AND ARMED CRIMINAL ACTION

August 12, 2009

Taney County Prosecuting Attorney, Jeffrey M. Merrell announced today that JAMES KEELER, dob: 07-13-1966 of Forsyth, Missouri was found guilty of the class C felony of assault in the second degree and the unclassified felony of armed criminal action by a ten (10) men, two (2) women Taney County Jury on Monday as a prior and persistent felony offender. The one day jury trial was held in front of Taney County Circuit Judge Mark Orr.

In the evening hours of November 8, 2008, Taney County Sheriff’s deputies where dispatched to a fight in progress at a trailer park on Mount Branson. At the trailer park deputies made contact with the landlord who told the deputies that he observed an individual loading items into an empty and unoccupied trailer. The landlord informed the deputies he went to confront the individual as to what he was doing in an empty trailer and the individual proceeded to attacked him with a rake and flee the area. Deputies were able to capture the individual, later identified as JAMES KEELER, at the Kwik Mart after deploying a taser device. Items recovered from the trailer included stolen musical equipment, drums and amplifiers from a reported theft case out of Hollister, Missouri.

Formal sentencing is set for October 1, 2009, at 10:30am. The class C felony of assault in the second degree has a range of punishment of one (1) day to one (1) year in the Taney County Jail, one (1) year to seven (7) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections, and/or a fine not to exceed $5,000.  However, as a prior and persistent felony offender, JAMES KEELER faces an enhanced range of punishment of up to fifteen (15) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections. The unclassified felony of armed criminal action carries a minimum punishment of three (3) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections.

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GERALD WILLINGHAM FOUND GUILTY OF POSSESSION OF A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE

August 10, 2009

Taney County Prosecuting Attorney, Jeffrey M. Merrell announced today that GERALD WILLINGHAM, dob: 11-11-1967 was found guilty Friday by Taney County Circuit Judge Mark Orr of the class C felony of possession of a controlled substance as a prior and persistent felony offender. The two day bench trial of GERALD WILLINGHAM was heard in Christian County on a change of venue. Formal sentencing in the matter is set for November 13, 2009 at 1:00pm in Christian County.

On December 12, 2004, at approximately 1950 hours a trooper with the Missouri State Highway Patrol initiated a traffic stop of a green Ford Explorer on Strawberry Road for lacking a light illuminating the rear license plate. During the traffic stop, the trooper asked the driver of the vehicle, GERALD WILLINGHAM to exit his vehicle. GERALD WILLINGHAM was asked by the trooper if he had anything in his pockets. In response to this question, GERALD WILLINGHAM turned from the officer and started empting his pockets on the hood of the patrol vehicle. While he was emptying his pockets he tried to discard an item onto the ground. The item, a baggie containing a white powder, was recovered by the trooper. That baggie was later sent to the Missouri State Highway Patrol Crime laboratory where it tested positive for the presence of methamphetamine, a schedule II controlled substance.

The class C felony of possession of a controlled substance has a range of punishment of one (1) day to one (1) year in the county jail, or one (1) year to seven (7) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections and/or a fine not the exceed $5,000. Because GERALD WILLINGHAM was found to be a prior and persistent felony offender by the court, he faces an enhanced range of punishment not to exceed fifteen years (15) in the Missouri Department of Corrections.

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JACOB A. HERRINGTON FOUND GUILTY OF JAIL ASSAULT

August 3, 2009

On Monday, July 27, 2009, JACOB A. HERRINGTON, dob 3/26/1985 of Tucson, Arizona, was found guilty of the class C felony of assault in the second degree by a Taney County jury. After a short, one-day jury trial and nearly two-and-one-half hours of deliberation, the 10-woman, 2-man jury rendered a guilty verdict.

The Taney County prosecutor alleged that on June 4, 2008, JACOB A. HERRINGTON had attempted to cause serious physical injury to another inmate when JACOB A. HERRINGTON held the inmate in a head-lock and punched the other inmate repeatedly with his fists, in the Taney County jail. Taney County jailers witnessed JACOB A. HERRINGTON beating the inmate victim and ordered him to stop. However, testimony from witnesses confirmed that JACOB A. HERRINGTON refused to stop beating the inmate victim, and had to be physically pulled away. Several other inmates were present in the Taney County jail when the assault occurred, but refused to give statements when questioned by officers.

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DANNY PRESTON SENTENCED TO A DECADE IN PRISON FOR DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED

July 17, 2009

Taney County Prosecuting Attorney, Jeffrey M. Merrell announced today that DANNY JAMES PRESTON, dob: 04/03/1960, of Forsyth, Missouri was sentenced Thursday to ten (10) years for driving while intoxicated and four (4) years for driving while license revoked by Taney County Circuit Judge Mark Orr. Probation was denied and both sentences are to run concurrent. On May 21, 2009, DANNY JAMES PRESTON plead guilty without a plea agreement to the class B felony of driving while intoxicated as a chronic offender and to the class D felony of driving while license revoked.

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