The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Crime & Courts

July 23, 2013

Webb City man takes plea deal in Jasper County murder case

— Ronald G. Inman pleaded guilty today to voluntary manslaughter in the beating death two years ago of 43-year-old Travis Weaver, of Carthage.

The 32-year-old Webb City man’s decision to accept a plea deal came shortly before jury selection was to begin for his trial in Jasper County Circuit Court in Joplin on a charge of second-degree murder.

Voluntary manslaughter is a Class B felony offense in Missouri carrying a punishment range of five to 15 years. Since Inman was being prosecuted as a prior and persistent offender, however, he remains subject to the penalty range for Class A felonies, such as second-degree murder, which carry 10 to 30 years, or up to life, in prison.

The benefit Inman received by pleading guilty is that he will not have to serve a minimum 85 percent of his sentence as he would have with a second-degree murder conviction. Circuit Judge David Dally deferred acceptance or rejection of the plea bargain until Inman’s sentencing hearing Sept. 23.

Weaver died of blunt-force trauma to his head suffered during a fight with Inman on Sept. 1, 2011, outside a residence at 5146 E. 20th St., east of Joplin.

Inman reportedly told a Jasper County sheriff’s detective that Weaver was pressuring him to get him some methamphetamine, which he did not wish to do. When Weaver hit Inman’s girlfriend, they decided to leave the address and he took their bags outside, Inman told the detective. On his way outside, he picked up a piece of wood and placed it with their bags behind some bushes.

The detective testified at a preliminary hearing in 2011 that Inman admitted later hitting Weaver twice in the head with the piece of wood while Weaver was sitting in a chair on the porch. He told the detective that  he did so in self-defense because Weaver had started toward him with a knife. But no knife was ever found at the scene and blood evidence suggested that Weaver never got up from the chair before being struck, the detective testified.

 

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