The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Crime & Courts

November 20, 2012

Father charged with assault in injuries to young children

CARTHAGE, Mo. — The father and grandfather were arrested, but only the father was charged in an accidental shooting Monday morning that resulted in injuries to two children near Carthage.

The Jasper County prosecutor’s office filed six charges Tuesday against Kenton Cowgill Jr., 27, after an altercation with Mark L. Wittenmeyer, 48.

According to Jasper County sheriff’s deputies, the fight took place when Wittenmeyer confronted Cowgill after an alleged domestic assault involving Shayna Cowgill, Wittenmeyer’s daughter.

It is alleged that during the confrontation, Kenton Cowgill brandished a shotgun, and the two men began to struggle over the weapon. The shotgun discharged, and pellets struck the two children in the face and upper torso area.

A 2-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy were injured. They were taken to Mercy McCune-Brooks Hospital in Carthage and then transferred to a hospital in Springfield.

Sheriff’s Capt. Derek Walrod said he was told by a nurse that the children are recovering and their injuries are not life-threatening .

The Jasper County prosecutor’s office on Tuesday charged Cowgill with three counts of domestic assault, two counts of armed criminal action and one count of unlawful possession of a firearm.

According to a probable-cause statement submitted by sheriff’s deputies, Cowgill was watching his two children at the home of his parents on County Lane 173. Wittenmeyer went to the house to confront Cowgill about an incident a short time earlier at another address on County Lane 173 that resulted in Cowgill causing an injury to Shayna Cowgill’s head and left eye, the affidavit says.

Wittenmeyer forced his way past Kerry Cowgill, Kenton Cowgill’s mother, to enter the home, deputies said. Kenton Cowgill then reportedly picked up a loaded shotgun, which was nearby, and was bringing the shotgun “in an upward motion toward Wittenmeyer.”

The two began struggling with the shotgun while the weapon’s muzzle was pointed in the direction of the two children, according to the affidavit. The shotgun discharged, with pellets striking both of the children. The two men reportedly continued to struggle, with Wittenmeyer eventually gaining control of the shotgun and using it in an attempt to injure Kenton Cowgill. The two men then began helping to care for the children and take them to the hospital, deputies said.

Deputies contacted Shayna Cowgill at the Carthage hospital, and she said Kenton Cowgill had struck her in the face with his elbow during an altercation. He admitted to the assault, deputies said, and was arrested.



In custody

KENTON COWGILL is being held at the Jasper County Jail on $250,000 bond.

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