The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 22, 2013

Hired hand won’t face death penalty in Vernon County murder case

By Jeff Lehr
news@joplinglobe.com

NEVADA, Mo. — The state has agreed not to seek the death penalty against Jeremy L. Maples in the murder of Belinda J. Beisly, but prosecutors have yet to take the option off the table for the victim’s husband, Bob T. Beisly II.

Maples, 33, waived his right to a preliminary hearing Wednesday in Vernon County Circuit Court. The farm hand and his rancher boss, Beisly, 57, are charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Beisly’s estranged wife almost four years ago inside her home north of Deerfield.

In the course of announcing Maples’ decision to waive the hearing, public defender Rebecca Elliston informed Associate Judge Neal Quitno that prosecutors had agreed to take the death penalty off the table. Tim Anderson, an assistant attorney general, confirmed the agreement.

Quitno ordered Maples bound over for trial and set June 4 for his initial appearance in a trial division of the court.

Anderson said after the hearing that no decision has been made yet with respect to the death penalty in Beisly’s case. Beisly waived his right to a preliminary hearing May 10.

The state’s electronic court record system shows that Jasper County Circuit Judge Gayle Crane was assigned to Beisly’s case May 15 by the Missouri Supreme Court in apparent anticipation of a defense motion for a change of venue. Anderson said Beisly technically has yet to file for the change of venue, although the defense motion is anticipated.

“I’m in agreement that he’s in need of (a change of venue),” Anderson said.

A probable-cause affidavit filed with the court suggests that the state is prosecuting the case as a hired murder. The affidavit alleges that Maples told investigators that Beisly offered him money to kill his wife, who was in the process of divorcing him. They had discussed the matter several times, and Beisly had offered him $10,000 to do it, Maples purportedly told investigators.

Maples reportedly admitted that he went to Belinda Beisly’s home the night in question but denied that he killed her.