The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

August 23, 2012

Future of Sheena Eastburn case to be decided by McDonald County Circuit Court

Woman has been serving life sentence for first-degree murder

PINEVILLE, Mo. — Sheena Eastburn’s future is now in the hands of Circuit Judge Tim Perigo.

Attorneys representing the state and Eastburn filed briefs last week in McDonald County Circuit Court in connection with her request for a new trial based on claims of ineffective counsel during her 1995 trial.

The court also could decide how a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling could affect Eastburn’s conviction on a charge of first-degree murder. She was 17 when her ex-husband, Tim Eastburn, was killed in 1992. She was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

On June 25, the Supreme Court found that the Eighth Amendment forbids a sentencing scheme that mandates life in prison without the possibility for parole for juvenile homicide offenders.

Kent Gipson, Eastburn’s attorney, said in his brief that the court faces a difficult question in determining the “appropriate remedy that the Missouri judiciary is empowered to impose in order to follow the dictates (of the Supreme Court ruling) and also conform to Missouri’s statutory and constitutional requirements in criminal cases.”

Gipson contends that the appropriate remedy for Perigo would be to vacate Eastburn’s conviction for first-degree murder and enter a judgment of conviction on the lesser offense of second-degree murder. The court then would order a new sentencing hearing either before the court or a jury on the issue of punishment.

Such a ruling could open the door for Eastburn, now 36, to be sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

McDonald County Prosecutor Jonathan Pierce, in a recent hearing, suggested to the court that it could resentence Eastburn to life with the possibility of parole for the offense of first-degree murder. Missouri’s first-degree murder statute provides for only two possible penalties: death or life without parole. Gipson said Perigo does not have the constitutional power “to rewrite the first-degree murder statute and impose a statutorily unauthorized penalty.”

Pierce, in his final brief, said the issue of whether a juvenile can be convicted of murder in the first degree based on the current sentencing guidelines is an important issue for courts across the state. He suggested that Perigo should transfer the issue to the Missouri Supreme Court “so that it could be decided on a uniform basis for all cases across the state.”

Gipson said he questions whether a trial judge has the authority to transfer a case to the Missouri Supreme Court.

Text Only
Local News
  • Former Webb City teacher charged with sexual contact with student

    A former Webb City High School choir teacher was charged Tuesday in Jasper County Circuit Court with having sexual contact with a student. According to a probable-cause statement, Carrie Njoroge, 30, of Oronogo, had consensual sexual intercourse with an 18-year-old male student in her office at Webb City High School during the evening hours of April 15.

    April 23, 2014

  • Carthage Council reorganizes

    The Carthage City Council has one new member after Paul McCoy was sworn in Tuesday as 2nd Ward councilman. Oaths of office also were repeated by Mayor Mike Harris, and Councilmen Lee Carlson, Jason Shelfer, Kirby Newport and Brady Beckham, all re-elected in city balloting on April 8. Councilman Dan Rife was re-elected as mayor pro tem.

    April 23, 2014

  • New Powell bridge to open today

    Great River Associates engineer Spencer Jones, of Springfield, is planning a final inspection of the new Powell bridge on Cowan Road off Route E, to be followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 3 p.m. today. The initial cost for the bridge was put at $800,000.

    April 23, 2014

  • Mike Pound 2010.jpg Mike Pound: Spring a great time to visit Carver monument

    It occurred to me when the woman passed me — for the second time — as I ambled along the walking trail at George Washington Carver National Monument that perhaps I should step up the pace of my amble. The only problem is, the walking trail at the monument isn’t a place that necessarily inspires a stepped-up amble. To me, the Carver monument is a place to linger.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Season opens Friday for Carthage Art Walk

    Art, music and other activities are scheduled Friday when a new season of the Carthage Art Walk opens on the courthouse square. Displays and programs set for 6 to 9 p.m. will showcase galleries, artists, restaurants and shops. Special events will feature a timed painting and a demonstration of an 1896 printing press.

    April 23, 2014

  • Missouri lawmakers file three resolutions calling for impeaching governor

    While Gov. Jay Nixon was in Nevada, Mo., on Wednesday, a Missouri House panel led by Republicans began hearing arguments on three measures calling for impeaching him. Nixon has downplayed the proceedings as a legislative “publicity stunt.” One resolution, sponsored by Rep. Mike Moon, R-Ash Grove, is critical of Nixon for waiting several months to call special elections to fill three vacated House seats.

    April 23, 2014

  • r042314psumove2.jpg SLIDE SHOW: Moving day for biology and chemistry building at Pittsburg State

    They didn’t all go two-by-two, and the person in charge wasn’t named Noah, but nonetheless, critters of all shapes and sizes were on the move Wednesday. Students, volunteers and staff members helped Delia Lister, director of Nature Reach, relocate everything from a pair of prairie dogs to a vocal macaw named Charlie so that Heckert-Wells Hall — the biology and chemistry building where they are housed on the campus of Pittsburg State University — can undergo a $4.4 million transformation in the coming months.

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos 1 Slideshow

  • Respond With Love flower.jpg Joplin pays it forward with flowers; residents asked to return bulbs ‘fostered’ for other towns

    Suzan Morang’s front yard bloomed brightly last year from a colorful array of bulbs that she will happily pass on to someone else this year. Morang, 1207 Xenia Court, is a participant in America Responds With Love, a national nonprofit organization that distributes bulbs to disaster-stricken cities.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 3M plant expansion to create 22 jobs

    An $18.7 million expansion at the 3M Co. manufacturing plant in Nevada will create 22 new jobs, a company official said Wednesday. “We started 43 years ago as a small manufacturer,” said Todd Cantrell, plant manager, in a meeting with employees. “We are now the largest 3M plant in the state of Missouri and one of the largest of all 3M plants.”

    April 23, 2014

  • Nixon: Tax-cut bill holds fatal flaw; area lawmakers say stance totally false

    Another year has brought yet another tax-cut fight between Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon and the Republican-led Missouri General Assembly, and on Tuesday, Nixon announced that he had found what he sees as a fatal flaw.

    April 22, 2014

Must Read
Sports
Photos


Facebook
Poll

A Missouri Senate committee has adopted a state budget provision that would prevent public colleges and universities from offering in-state tuition rates to students living in the country illegally. Do you agree with this?

Yes.
No.
     View Results
Opinion
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter