The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Crime & Courts

April 29, 2013

Judge finds evidence insufficient in drug trafficking case

A defendant accused of trafficking in crack cocaine in Joplin was acquitted in a bench trial Monday in Jasper County Circuit Court.

Circuit Judge David Mouton granted a defense motion for acquittal after the prosecution finished presenting its case against Michael T. Johnson, 56.

Johnson was arrested and charged with second-degree trafficking in drugs when the Jasper County Drug Task Force and Joplin Police Department narcotics officers served a search warrant on Oct. 4, 2011, at 1320 S. Kentucky Ave. and reportedly seized about 10.5 grams of crack cocaine.

A probable-cause affidavit states that the drugs were found in a sandwich bag left on a shoe box on the floor of a front bedroom. Mail and other paperwork with the defendant’s name were discovered in the same room, along with clothing, according to the affidavit.

Public defender Nicki Neil argued in her motion for acquittal that the state presented no clear evidence that the crack cocaine belonged to Johnson, and the judge ultimately agreed.

The search warrant was obtained on information provided by a confidential informant that drugs were being sold at the address. Narcotics officers conducted surveillance of the residence before serving the warrant, and they reportedly observed Johnson pull up to the address in a truck with a woman, get out of the vehicle and go inside.

The officers stopped Johnson and the woman as they left the residence and then served the search warrant. One of the drug task force officers asked the defendant at the Joplin city jail after his arrest if he had been staying in a back room of the residence where several medicine bottles were found. The officer said Johnson told him that he had been staying in the front room where the drugs and his mail were found.

Johnson was tried as a prior and persistent offender, which means he would have faced an enhanced penalty range had he been convicted. The defendant has felony drug convictions in 2010 in Jasper County and in 1995 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri. Court records state that he also pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in 1997 in Jackson County Circuit Court.

Text Only
Crime & Courts
  • Neosho man hurt in scooter accident north of Goodman

    A Neosho man was injured in a scooter accident at 3:40 p.m. Friday on Missouri Highway 59, two miles north of Goodman in Newton County, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

    April 18, 2014

  • Joplin police seize pound of meth after traffic stop

    Joplin police seized about a pound of methamphetamine and $2,000 cash in a traffic stop Thursday at 17th Street and Maiden Lane.

    April 18, 2014

  • Two-year-old boy, stepfather suffer gas-fire burns

    ARMA, Kan. — A 2-year-old boy and his stepfather suffered burns Friday afternoon when a plastic gasoline container left near a fire pit ignited, according to the Arma Police Department.

    April 18, 2014

  • Court date set for defendant in stabbing case

    GIRARD, Kan. — A suspect is being held at the Crawford County Jail on a charge of attempted murder in the stabbing of another man Wednesday afternoon in Girard.

    April 18, 2014

  • Bruner denied change of venue for murder trial

    Circuit Judge Gayle Crane has denied a change of venue for a defendant charged with fatally shooting an assistant football coach at Missouri Southern State University. The attorney for Jeffrey Bruner claimed pretrial publicity as the reason for seeking a change of venue in Jasper County Circuit Court.

    April 18, 2014

  • Embezzler from Joplin car dealerships sent to prison

    A federal judge has sentenced Kathryn M. Stayton to 13 months in prison for embezzling more than $100,000 from Frank Fletcher Ford and Credit Cars of Joplin. U.S. District Judge Greg Kays assessed the 36-year-old Joplin woman the prison term at a sentencing hearing this week in federal court in Springfield. The judge also ordered the former controller at both car dealerships to pay restitution totaling $121,249. 51.

    April 18, 2014

  • Russell family sues city, Joplin police

    A family whose teenage daughter’s suicide a year ago brought them into conflict with police are suing the city and the Joplin Police Department.

    April 18, 2014

  • Jeffery Bruner.JPG Defendant denied change of venue in MSSU coach slaying

    Circuit Judge Gayle Crane has denied a motion for a change of venue for Jeffrey Bruner, the defendant charged with killing Missouri Southern State University assistant football coach Derek Moore.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Reeds man granted probation in case involving gunshots

    A Jasper County judge has granted suspended sentences to a rural Reeds man who tore up a campsite with his truck in a drunken rage and fired a gun at another driver and a sheriff’s deputy.

    April 17, 2014

  • Joplin man faces burglary charge after incident

    A 31-year-old man is facing a burglary charge following an incident Wednesday afternoon at a business near downtown Joplin.

    April 17, 2014

Local News

Missouri Republicans are considering a new approach to prevent federal agents from enforcing laws the state considers to be infringements on gun rights: barring them from future careers in state law enforcement agencies. Do you think this proposal has merit?

     View Results
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
NDN Video
Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest