The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

January 17, 2013

Jasper County man to stand trial in assault case

A Jasper County father accused of causing shotgun-blast injuries to his two preschool-age children during an altercation with his father-in-law has been bound over for trial on six felony counts.

Kenton C. Cowgill Jr., 27, waived his right to a preliminary hearing Wednesday in Jasper County Circuit Court and was ordered to stand trial on three counts of domestic assault, two counts of armed criminal action, and a single count of unlawful possession of a firearm.

The defendant’s 2-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son were struck with pellets when a shotgun discharged during a domestic disturbance Nov. 19 at the home of the defendant’s parents on County Lane 173.

Cowgill reportedly was watching his children at the residence in the wake of an argument with his estranged wife, Shayna Cowgill, at another address on County Lane 173. During the argument, he allegedly struck his wife in the face with his elbow.

A probable-cause affidavit states that Shayna Cowgill’s father, Mark L. Wittenmeyer, 48, went to the defendant’s parents’ home to confront his son-in-law about the assault on his daughter. The defendant grabbed a shotgun as Wittenmeyer entered the home, and the two men were struggling for control of the weapon in the presence of the children when it discharged, according to the affidavit.

One of the children was struck in the face and the other in the torso by pellets from the gun blast, but neither suffered life-threatening injuries, according to the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department.

Associate Judge Richard Copeland has set Cowgill’s initial appearance in a trial division of the court for Jan. 28.