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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Party resulting in alcohol poisoning lands Monett man behind bars

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Barry County Judicial Center, including the offices of Prosecutor Johnnie Cox.
A Monett man will be spending a few weekends in jail after admitting he hosted a party that ended in the alcohol poisoning death of a local teenager.

Joseph H. Rattles, 22, pleaded guilty to eight counts of knowingly allowing or failing to stop a person under the age of 21 from drinking or possessing intoxicating liquor. Last week, Rattles was sentenced to serve eight days shock jail time during weekends, which began on May 15. He was also ordered to perform 200 hours of community service.

Rattles and Dennis Meinke, 23, were both charged by Barry County Prosecutor Johnnie Cox under the state's "house party" law. It was the first time Cox had prosecuted anyone under the law. The two men were accused of hosting a birthday party on March 3, 2007, at the home they shared in Monett at the time.

A number of underage teenagers attended the party, including 18-year-old Jessica Murphy, of Verona. On the morning after the party, Murphy was found dead in one of the bedrooms at 512 Frisco St. in Monett.

Autopsy reports later revealed that Murphy had died from alcohol poisoning. Her blood alcohol level was .406, which is five times the legal limit.

In the wake of Murphy's death, Brandon K. Himes, 24, of Pierce City, was charged with involuntary manslaughter and supplying liquor to a minor.

On March 23, Himes pleaded guilty to manslaughter, admitting he "recklessly caused the death of Jessica Murphy by pouring intoxicating beverages into a funnel that she was drinking from."

Witnesses reported seeing Himes pour approximately 12 ounces each of tequila and vodka into a "beer bong" that Murphy drank. The alcohol mixture also included an unknown amount of beer.

Himes' is scheduled to be sentenced for his crime this Friday, May 22 in Barry County Circuit Court in Cassville.

The "house party" charges against Meinke are still pending. His case will receive a court hearing on June 15.

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