Christopher Paschall

Christopher Paschall

CASSVILLE, Mo. — Circuit Judge Jack Goodman assessed Christopher Paschall two consecutive life terms without parole for the double homicide of Casey Brace and her grandfather, Herb Townsend, plus another 177 years for related offenses, at a sentencing hearing Friday in Cassville.

A jury convicted Paschall of the slayings of Brace, 28, and Townsend, 76, in a trial a year ago that was moved to Neosho on a change of venue from Barry County. His sentencing had been delayed repeatedly since then out of concern with the 40-year-old defendant's competence to understand court proceedings.

At Friday's hearing, Goodman denied the most recent defense motion to stay proceedings and went ahead with sentencing of the Springdale, Arkansas, man. The two convictions for first-degree murder carried mandatory terms of life without parole. To those, the judge added seven years for parental kidnapping and sentences of 60, 20 and 90 years on three counts of armed criminal action and ordered that the sentences all run consecutively.

Assistant Attorney General Steven Kretzer, who assisted Barry County Prosecutor Amy Boxx in the case, argued at the sentencing hearing that Paschall has never shown any remorse for his actions.

The father of two of Brace's three children fatally shot her and her grandfather Jan. 5, 2015, at Townsend's home near Washburn and took their 2-year-old daughter, Alli Paschall, with him to his father's home in Arkansas.

Townsend survived the shooting long enough to call 911 and make dying declarations to the first deputy who arrived on the scene and to a paramedic moments later as to who shot him and his granddaughter.

The deputy asked the mortally wounded grandfather: "Could you tell me who did this?" The deputy testified at trial that Townsend told him: "Chris Paschall."

When deputies learned from Townsend's daughter, Cathy Townsend, that Alli had been with her mom at her grandfather's place, investigators issued an Amber Alert and the girl was located with Paschall in Arkansas.

Cathy Townsend, Brace's mother, testified at trial that she ran into Paschall in Cassville the morning of the double homicide. She first noticed him following her vehicle in traffic. She made a turn and he drove on around the town square until they wound up coming at each other in traffic. She told the court that he glared at her as they passed each other.

She had a restraining order on Paschall at the time and called the Barry County Sheriff's Department to report the matter. A deputy came to speak with her at her residence in Washburn, where Brace and her three children were living at the time. Brace and two of her children were at the residence when the deputy showed up to speak with Townsend.

Cathy Townsend testified that Paschall threatened her the day she went to court to obtain the restraining order and called her father and threatened him shortly before Christmas, just a couple of weeks before the murder. She said he told Herb Townsend: "Old man, I've got friends with Tommy guns coming after you."

An autopsy determined that Brace was shot three times and Townsend five or six times. The murder weapon was never identified.

Evaluations

Judge Jack Goodman ordered two mental examinations of Chris Paschall over the past year at the request of the defense. He denied a request in May to have the defendant transported to California to see an expert there and get a brain scan. The judge ruled that a scan and second opinion could be obtained in Missouri.

Trending Video

Jeff Lehr is an award-winning reporter for The Joplin Globe who covers the courts and crime beat. He can be reached at jlehr@joplinglobe.com.