Casey Malone, a 39-year-old Oklahoma man, remains in custody without bond in the fatal assault of his 63-year-old girlfriend, Ann McCrary, three months ago in Joplin.
But Malone has yet to be charged with her slaying. He instead faces a count of first-degree assault in the apparent beating death of McCrary on Jan. 18 at her residence in the 300 block of South Wall Avenue.
Jasper County Prosecutor Theresa Kenney said Friday that’s because she has yet to receive autopsy findings in the case.
“I don’t have a death certificate or an autopsy report,” Kenney said. “I would prefer to have that information before we file murder charges on a suspect.”
She said she was uncertain why her office has yet to receive a report from the medical examiner who performed the autopsy at Southwest Missouri Forensics in Springfield.
Coroner Rob Chappel said he believes the medical examiner may still be waiting toxicology test results.
Malone has a preliminary hearing scheduled April 26. Kenney indicated that she would like to receive an autopsy report before that date so that she could amend charges, if warranted, prior to the hearing.
Without a finding as to the cause of death, she’s reluctant to file the murder charge. But she also would like to avoid getting the defendant ordered to stand trial on the assault charge, only to have the case remanded to associate court if she later upgrades the charge to murder.
Police officers responding to a report of a disturbance at McCrary’s home the night of Jan. 18 found her unconscious with severe injuries. Malone, who was at the scene, was arrested on suspicion of assault.
A probable-cause affidavit filed in the case states that he “physically assaulted her multiple times throughout the day,” breaking her left arm and causing a brain bleed by striking her about the head. Both her eyes were bruised and swollen shut, according to the affidavit.
A witness purportedly told police that Malone, who has a history of assaults, was intoxicated at the time.
At one point during the emergency call, McCrary stopped breathing and had to be resuscitated by paramedics. She died of her injuries Jan. 30 at a hospital in Joplin.