The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Crime & Courts

December 28, 2012

Pleas entered in three Joplin robbery cases

— The Jasper County prosecutor’s office obtained convictions Friday with plea deals reached in three Joplin robbery cases in which bar patrons, a carhop at a drive-in and a pizza deliveryman were victims.

Ashley N. Bassett, 27, of Fort Scott, Kan., pleaded guilty in Jasper County Circuit Court to three counts of stealing and received probation in a 2008 case involving three male patrons of the OK Bar in Joplin.

Bassett was accused of approaching the men in the bar at 1516 S. Main St. and inviting them to a party at a friend’s house. According to a police report and court records, she got into a vehicle with the men and directed them to an alley in the 800 block of South Sergeant Avenue, where an unidentified male accomplice was waiting with a gun. She and the gunman demanded money from the victims, took the wallet of one of the men and fled.

An investigation by Joplin police led to the arrest of Bassett, but not her accomplice. She had been facing three counts of first-degree robbery, a Class A felony offense. The counts were reduced to the Class C felony offense of stealing by her plea deal, which also called for the terms to run concurrent.

Circuit Judge David Mouton assessed Bassett seven years on each count, but suspended execution of the sentences and instead placed her on probation for five years.

Crystal D. Harper, 39, of Arma, Kan., pleaded guilty in Mouton’s courtroom to a reduced charge in a robbery two years ago of a carhop at the Sonic Drive-In at 720 S. Maiden Lane.

The defendant, who was facing charges of first-degree robbery and armed criminal action, pleaded guilty to second-degree robbery in a plea deal that would dismiss the count of armed criminal action and limit the prison time she might receive to 10 years.

Mouton delayed formal acceptance or rejection of the plea agreement and ordered the completion of a sentencing-assessment report on Harper. The judge set her sentencing hearing for March 1.

Harper and an alleged accomplice, Jaycee G. Jones, 46, also of Arma, were charged with stealing $20 in cash and $13.03 worth of food on Feb. 9, 2011, from a female carhop who waited on them. Jones allegedly threatened the carhop with a knife. The defendants were apprehended by police when the vehicle that Harper was driving became stuck in a snow drift on the Sonic Drive-In’s lot as they tried to leave.

Jones, whose case remains pending in Jasper County Circuit Court, is currently incarcerated in Kansas, according to an entry in court records.

In the robbery of a Domino’s Pizza deliveryman on July 29 in the 1800 block of South Pearl Avenue, Keith D. Walton Jr., 31, of Joplin, entered an Alford plea to a reduced count of second-degree robbery.

Walton’s plea agreement would limit the prison time he might receive to eight years. An Alford plea admits no guilt, but acknowledges that a conviction is likely if the case were to proceed to trial. Mouton ordered the completion of a sentencing-assessment report and set a sentencing hearing for March 1.

Co-defendants Shawn M. Simmons, 29, and Caleb S. Baker, 20, pleaded guilty earlier this month. Simmons received a suspended sentence and five years on probation. Baker, who wielded a gun in the robbery and has prior felony convictions, is awaiting a sentencing hearing on Feb. 11.

The men made off with about $30 cash and six pizzas in the robbery. Walton told police that the robbery was a “spur-of-the-moment” crime and that he went along with the others “because he was hungry and wanted to eat.”

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