The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

December 13, 2012

Assault charge dropped; absence of victim cited

By Andra Bryan Stefanoni
news@joplinglobe.com

PITTSBURG, Kan. —

A felony assault charge that an Oklahoma man was facing was dismissed Thursday when the alleged victim failed to show up to testify against him at a preliminary hearing in Jasper County Circuit Court in Joplin.

Mark A. Perez, 48, and his girlfriend, Sarah E. Burton, 22, of Joplin, had been charged with felony assault in the stabbing May 20 of Gregory B. Forest, 42, of rural Joplin, on East 32nd Street near the Flying J truck stop.

Perez and Burton got into an argument with Forest and his girlfriend, who is Perez’s daughter, and chased after them in a vehicle, according to police and court records. Burton allegedly got out of the vehicle at a stoplight, approached Forest’s truck and stabbed him three times in the arm with a pocketknife.

Burton entered an Alford plea earlier this month to a reduced charge of misdemeanor assault and was assessed 60 days in jail with credit for time already served. An Alford plea admits no guilt but acknowledges the likelihood of a conviction if the matter were to proceed to trial.

Assistant Prosecutor Kurt Benecke said prosecution of the charge against Perez was being dropped because Forest did not show up in court to testify.