On Wednesday afternoon, March 22, 2017, JERRY JOHN “J.J.” NORTON, d/o/b 10/27/1981 – formerly of Greene County, Missouri – entered a guilty plea to five (5) felonies, in the Circuit Court of Taney County. Taney County Judge Eric Eighmy accepted Norton’s guilty plea and set sentencing for Monday afternoon, March 27, 2017. Pursuant to a plea agreement with the Taney County Prosecutor’s office, Norton is to be sentenced to twenty-five (25) years in prison.
Norton pleaded guilty to one (1) count of murder in the second degree, two (2) counts of armed criminal action, and one (1) count each of assault in the second degree and tampering with a motor vehicle in the first degree. Norton’s guilty pleas came just days before he was scheduled to stand trial for the stabbing death of his girlfriend that had occurred on December 10, 2014, at the Westwood Inn, in Branson.
On the afternoon of December 10, 2014, Norton had cut a housekeeper at the Westwood Inn with a knife when the housekeeper attempted to check on the well-being of Norton’s girlfriend in their motel room, after hearing screams. A Branson Police officer responded to the Westwood Inn, on Shepherd of the Hills Expressway, and upon arrival found Norton behaving erratically. When the officer proceeded to check on the well-being of Norton’s girlfriend in the motel room, Norton drove-off in the officer’s patrol vehicle. After driving a short distance to the motel’s office, Norton stopped, exited the patrol vehicle and collapsed on the ground where he was arrested. Norton’s girlfriend was discovered unresponsive in the motel room, having suffered obvious stab wounds. She was later declared deceased on the scene by Taney County Coroner Kevin Tweedy.
The maximum sentence for murder in the second degree is life in prison – with the possibility of parole. “Life” is calculated by the Missouri Department of Corrections as thirty (30) years. There is no statutory maximum sentence for the crimes of armed criminal action. The maximum sentence for assault in the second degree and for tampering with a motor vehicle in the first degree is seven (7) years in prison. Pursuant to the plea agreement, Norton’s sentences on the five (5) felonies are to be concurrent.