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Manslaiughter plea made in drinking case

Monday, March 23, 2009

(Photo)
Stone County Judicial Center, where proceedings took place Monday. [Times Photo by Murray Bishoff]
Brandon Himes, the Pierce City man charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the alcohol poisoning death of an area teenager, pleaded guilty to his crime today, March 23, which is the day his trial was scheduled to being in the Stone County Courthouse in Galena.

Himes, 24, was arrested in March of 2007 and accused of "recklessly causing the death of Jessica Murphy by pouring intoxicating beverages into a funnel that she was drinking from."

Murphy, an 18-year-old from Verona, was found dead in the bedroom of a home located at 512 Frisco St. in Monett on the morning of March 4, 2007, following a birthday party the night before.

Witness statements indicate that Murphy did a "beer bong," using a six-foot, three-inch hose attached to a quart-sized funnel, and Himes was seen pouring approximately 375 milliliters of vodka and 375 milliliters of tequila into the bong in addition to the beer.

A toxicology report issued following Murphy's autopsy showed her blood alcohol level to be .406.

This morning, two years after his initial arrest, Himes appeared in Stone County Circuit Court with his attorneys, John Lewright and Robert Foulke, of Cassville. Himes pleaded guilty to the Class D felony of involuntary manslaughter in the second degree and supplying intoxicated liquor to a minor, a Class A misdemeanor. Originally, Himes was charged with Class C involuntary manslaughter.

Barry County Prosecutor Johnnie Cox said the Class C felony charge of involuntary manslaughter implies a "reckless" mental state while the Class D charge refers to a "criminally negligent" mental state.

"The facts that were developed during the case and statements from the witnesses support the Class D criminal negligence charge," said Cox. "It's the appropriate charge for the facts of this case."

Circuit Court Judge Robert S. Wiley accepted Himes plea of guilty and set sentencing for May 22.

Himes was originally granted a change of venue from Barry County on May 21, 2008. His case was transferred to Lawrence County, and due to process of moving all court office facilities into the new Lawrence County Courthouse, the location of Hime's trial was moved to the Stone County Courthouse in Galena.



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