MOUNT VERNON, Mo. — A Bois D'Arc man has pleaded guilty to endangerment charges in a vehicular assault near Miller and assessed suspended sentences and probation.

Bobby R. Keith, 35, pleaded guilty Tuesday in Lawrence County Circuit Court to two felony counts of child endangerment in a plea deal dismissing related counts first-degree assault and armed criminal action and allowing suspended sentences.

Judge David Cole accepted the plea agreement and assessed Keith three years on each conviction, with execution of the sentences suspended and the defendant placed on supervised probation for five years.

The case involved an incident Jan. 20 at a residence on Missouri Highway 30 near Miller. A woman who had agreed to take in overnight two children of a friend of her daughter's who had lost power at her residence. But the woman had ended up taking care of them for several days without hearing from their mother.

A probable-cause affidavit states that she finally contacted the Missouri Department of Social Services thinking that the mother may have abandoned her children. Once a case worker's preliminary investigation had begun, the mother and her boyfriend, Keith, showed up at the woman's house upset that she had contacted family services.

The woman alleged that as they were picking their children up, a disturbance broke out during which Keith drove their van at the complainant where she stood in her front yard. She told a sheriff's deputy that the van would have struck her if the mother of the children had not grabbed at the steering wheel and redirected the van as it came to a stop.

Keith then drove off in a reckless manner with the two children in the van that almost struck another vehicle due to recklessness, according to the affidavit.

Jeff Lehr is a reporter for The Joplin Globe. 

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