The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

June 26, 2012

Laramore murder trial delayed

Judge orders mental health exam of defendant

A judge has postponed the murder trial of William W. Laramore to give his attorney an opportunity to obtain a mental health exam of her client.

The trial of the 46-year-old Laramore was set to begin today in Jasper County Circuit Court. The Joplin man is charged with first-degree murder in the beating death of Sean C. French, 46, on Nov. 14, 2010, and with first-degree assault on Steven Shockley, 50, who tried to intervene.

Public defender Brett Meeker filed a motion Tuesday to obtain a exam for her client, citing a concern with Laramore’s ability to assist in his own defense, and Circuit Judge David Mouton granted the request, setting the trial back indefinitely.

A medical examiner determined that French died of head trauma sustained in an alleged fistfight with Laramore inside a home at 814 W. A St., where French lived with Laramore’s ailing mother. A probable-cause affidavit alleges that Laramore knocked French to the floor of the home’s living room and began stomping on him.

The affidavit states that a witness told police that Shockley tried to intervene at that point, and Laramore hit him one or more times. Laramore subsequently picked up a coffee table and hit French with it while he was still lying on the floor, according to the affidavit.

An account of the conflict provided to the Globe by Charles Laramore, the defendant’s son, suggests that there was a gap of 40 minutes or more between the knocking down and stomping of French and the clobbering of him with the coffee table.

The younger Laramore, who was 18 at the time, is named as a witness to the crime in the affidavit.

He told the Globe that he received a call from his father at 12:26 a.m. on Nov. 15, 2010, asking him to come over to the house on A Street. The son said his father told him over the phone that he had beaten up French and that he was lying on the floor.

The son arrived at the address a few minutes later, and French was lying on the floor in a pool of blood, he said. He was breathing but did not appear to be conscious, the son said. His father was still mad at French and yelling at him, claiming French had “disrespected” his ailing mother by commenting that he might gather up her medication and hide it from her.

The son told the Globe that his father then picked up the coffee table, walked over to French and threw it down on him. The table struck the prostrate man’s head and caromed into an entertainment center, causing a television set to topple onto French’s head.

The son said he walked over and picked the television set up, set the coffee table upright, and told his father he was leaving. His father asked for a ride to his brother’s house, and he refused, but his father followed him out of the house anyway, where they were met by Joplin police.

Police had been notified at 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 14 of an assault in progress in the area of the home on A Street but did not have a specific address. They were trying to pinpoint the location when officers came upon Shockley a few blocks from the house. Questioning of the injured man led them to the address.

Next hearing

The next pre-trial hearing is set for July 27, with no new trial date as yet set.

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