NEOSHO, Mo. — A Joplin man was granted probation when he pleaded guilty this week in Newton County Circuit Court to a reduced charge in a felony domestic assault case.
Austin G. Lawrence, 42, pleaded guilty to fourth-degree domestic assault in a deal calling for a suspended imposition of sentence, which Judge Kevin Selby granted in accepting the plea arrangement and placing the defendant on supervised probation for five years.
The judge ordered as a condition of probation that Lawrence submit to a mental health evaluation and any recommended treatment for anger management.
The conviction pertains to an argument with his wife, Ashley Lawrence, along Missouri Highway 43 at Lucy Lane in Newton County. A deputy responding to a report of a disturbance found the defendant's wife with split lips and a bloodied face.
She told the deputy that her husband had slammed her head into the dashboard of their car and choked her with his hands, according to a probable-cause affidavit. A passing motorist reported seeing a man on top of a woman and punching her as he drove past, and an occupant of a nearby residence reported that the woman had come running toward his place screaming for help.