NEOSHO, Mo. —
A Newton County jury deliberated 22 minutes Wednesday before convicting a truck driver from Alabama of sexually abusing his 12-year-old stepdaughter a year ago at a Joplin truck stop.
Delbert F. Glover, 50, of Hatton, Ala., was convicted on all three counts of statutory sodomy that he was facing in a single-day trial in Newton County Circuit Court in Neosho.
Circuit Judge Tim Perigo set Glover’s sentencing hearing for Dec. 19. Each of the counts carries from 10 to 30 years or up to life in prison in Missouri.
The girl, now 13, testified that the abuse took place at more than one location while she was on a trip with Glover to California in his tractor-trailer. But the trial concerned only those acts that allegedly took place the night of June 21, 2010, at the Pilot truck stop on Interstate 44 in Joplin.
The case came to the attention of law enforcement when the girl ran inside the truck stop wearing nothing more than a T-shirt and sought help on the advice of her mother, who she had called on a cellphone.
The girl told the court that she had been excited to accompany her stepfather on the cross-country haul because she had never been to California. Glover had been involved with her mother for more than six years, and he had been good to her, the girl said. He was the only father she had ever known, she told the court.
On the trip, they stopped at a Hooters restaurant, and he bought her some shorts and a T-shirt like those the restaurant’s waitresses wore. At nights in the truck’s cab, they would sleep together in the bed but with their clothes on, the girl said.
In California, he took her to the beach and she got to swim in the ocean, but that’s also where he began acting inappropriately with her, she testified. She said his sexual misconduct continued on their way back at a stop in Texas and again in Joplin.
She said that inside the truck’s cab on the night in question, he plied her with a wine cooler, had her dance naked for him on the bed, played a pornographic movie on his television and sexually abused her in more than one manner.
“He told me that night in Joplin that he was going to leave my mom, but he wasn’t going to leave me,” the girl testified.
Assistant Prosecutors Bill Dobbs and Shellé Riley also called the girl’s mother, a deputy and a detective as witnesses for the state.
The girl’s mother told the court that she had let her daughter go with Glover because there had been no previous indications of any inappropriate desire for her daughter on the part of her husband. She said the first she learned of it was when her daughter called her from the truck stop in Joplin.
She said the girl at first would not tell her what had happened, other than that Glover had been drinking. She said her daughter was extremely upset, and she told her she needed to calm down and then call her back. When the girl called her again a few moments later, she told her: “Daddy’s trying to have sex with me.”
The mother said she didn’t believe she heard her correctly and asked her to repeat what she said. When she did, the mother told her to run inside the truck stop and hand the phone to the first adult she saw. Testimony showed that the girl did just that, the truck stop manager was put on the phone with the mother, and the Newton County Sheriff’s Department was summoned.
Deputy Brendon Lammers testified that the defendant told him at the truck stop: “I guess I’m going to have to get a new girlfriend.” Lammers said he asked Glover why, and he replied: “’Cause this is over.”
The prosecution also played an audiotape of an interview of Glover by Detective Oren Barnes during which the defendant admitted committing at least one sex act with the girl that night. He also came close to acknowledging both other acts that the girl alleged took place, although he claimed that he had not intentionally participated in either of those.
Glover claimed that he fell asleep and woke up in a compromising position with the girl, and that he pushed her off and told her to go call her mother and tell her what had happened.
Glover chose not to testify in his own defense. His public defender, Maleia Cheney, told jurors in closing arguments that her client’s contact with the girl had taken place in his sleep after drinking, just as he had told the deputy in the taped interview. Cheney suggested that the girl had exaggerated to her mother and law enforcement what had happened because she knew her mother and Glover were not getting along, and “this way she gets rid of the problem.”
Cheney introduced a letter into evidence that the mother had presented to her client after his arrest. The letter sought his consent to a divorce and the transfer of all their marital property to her.
Dobbs, the prosecutor, argued that Glover’s admissions to the detective in many ways meshed with the girl’s testimony as to what took place between them. The prosecutor told jurors that the trip was supposed to have been a fun and exciting adventure, and a pleasant memory for a 12-year-old girl involving someone she had come to trust and love as her father.
“And he has sullied not only that memory, but he has sullied that child,” Dobbs said.
THE JUDGE RULED before the trial that prosecutors could not elicit specific testimony as to what Delbert Glover allegedly did to his stepdaughter in other states during their trip because of its prejudicial nature. But the judge did allow testimony that there had been unspecified acts of a sexual nature in California and in Texas leading up to the alleged offenses in Missouri.