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.