On January 6, 2016, Sr. Judge D. Gregory Warren sentenced Brent Black, 27, of Rolla, to 12 years in prison for Abuse of a Child and Life Imprisonment for Murder in the Second Degree, said sentences to be served consecutively to one another. Judge Warren also ordered both sentences to run consecutively to the 28 year sentence Black is currently serving for Burglary and Stealing. Black was previously found guilty of the Abuse of a Child and Murder in the Second Degree by a jury on November 5, 2015.
Phelps County Prosecuting Attorney Brendon Fox stated “I am glad Judge Warren imposed a lengthy sentence. I pray the victim’s family can gain some closure and move past this horrific event, but I know their loss will always be there.”
Fox estimates that Black won’t be eligible for parole until at least 2054.
On Friday, Judge Colin Long sentenced Brad Brand, 28, of St. James to serve 15 years in prison for assaulting a small child. The case was prosecuted by Phelps County Prosecuting Attorney, Brendon Fox and Senior Assistant Prosecutor John Garrabrant.
On May 16, 2014 a seven month old was taken to PCRMC for suspected child abuse. Brad Brand was determined to be the only adult with control over the child at the time of the various injuries. On the eve of trial, Brand elected to plead guilty. 15 years imprisonment is the maximum sentence allowed by law.
“Lt. Carl Swanson of the SJPD did a great job with this case. Our hearts go out to the young victim and the family. We are thankful that there will be no lasting effects from the assault,” said Fox. Fox also noted that because of the nature of the crime Mr. Brand won’t be eligible for parole until he has served 85% of his sentence, or 12.75 years. “I doubt he will be paroled even when eligible,” said Fox.
On Tuesday a Phelps County Jury found Jason Bruce, 37, of Rolla guilty of Rape in the First Degree, two counts of Sodomy in the First Degree, Burglary in the First Degree, and Felonious Restraint. Judge William E. Hickle presided over the two day trial which was prosecuted by Phelps County Prosecuting Attorney, Brendon Fox.
On June 7, 2014, Jason Bruce broke into a Rolla residence and took the resident hostage. He threatened her life if she made a noise before tying her up and raping her. After several hours, she was able to convince Bruce she wouldn’t tell anyone so he left. Police later arrived to begin their investigation. Detective Derrick Dillon was the lead investigator and was assisted by Detective Adam Meyer. “Dillon and Meyer did a great job. They were thorough and got us all the evidence we needed,” said Fox. The victim described the rape to Dillon, including how she was tied up by Bruce, which left ligature marks on her wrists and ankles.
Bruce initially told Meyer that he didn’t know the victim, but eventually admitted he did. He said he had been to the victim’s house a few days prior to the rape, but claimed he had not been to the victim’s house that evening and said it was not possible for DNA to link him to the crimes. But Jessica York, an expert from the DNA Diagnostic Center in Fairfield, Ohio determined otherwise. Bruce’s DNA was present on the victim and the victim’s DNA was present in his boxer shorts, which proved he was there and had committed the crime.
Fox noted that the jury deliberated for about an hour before reaching their verdict. “In a case like this, with this many counts, I feel like the jury was convinced pretty quickly. I am so proud of the victim. She came to court and faced her rapist. She described the worst thing that had ever happened to her to a courtroom full of strangers and she did great,” said Fox.
Fox also noted that Bruce has a prior rape conviction from Florida in 1998 with very similar facts where Bruce served 186.25 months in prison. “He had been out of prison for a little over a year before committing this new rape. Given the unique similarities between the cases, I have had zero doubt as to Mr. Bruce’s guilt from the very beginning,” said Fox. Fox also explained that Bruce could receive from 10 to 30 years, or life imprisonment for each rape and sodomy count. He could receive from 5 to 15 years for the burglary and up to 7 years for the felonious restraint.
The case is set for sentencing on December 10, 2015 at 9:00AM before Judge William Hickle.
On Thursday, Judge Ronald D. White sentenced Billy Godfrey, 52, of Rolla to serve 35 life sentences in prison stemming from his July 29, 2015 plea to 35 counts of statutory sodomy in the 1st degree. The case was prosecuted by Phelps County Prosecuting Attorney, Brendon Fox.
Godfrey pleaded guilty to sexually abusing two children between 1995 and 1999 who were between the ages of eight and thirteen. The victims came forward last October and Godfrey confessed to Phelps County Sheriff’s Department Detectives George Arnold and Neil Boshoff. “I am proud of the efforts of our detectives. They presented me with an air tight case,” said Fox.
The victims, now adults, made statements during the sentencing hearing. “I am so proud of their courage and honesty coming forward. Too often victims of sexual abuse suffer in silence for years due to embarrassment and shame. To come forward they have said that they will not suffer in silence and I hope other victims become empowered and also come forward to confront their abusers,” said Fox.
Unmoved by the Godfrey’s plea for mercy, Judge Ronald D. White stated, “You asked for an opportunity to die outside of prison. Given what you did, you don’t deserve it.” Then Judge White sentenced Godfrey to 35 life sentences to be served consecutively which is the equivalent of 1050 years in prison. “This was the worst case of child sexual abuse I have ever seen. These victims were subjected to hundreds of incidents of child abuse over many years. Judge White has ensured that Godrey will never take another breath of free air,” said Fox.
On Monday, David Cole Nash, 29, of Rolla, was sentenced to 15 years in prison stemming from his July convictions on two counts of Domestic Assault in the Second Degree.
Brendon Fox, the Phelps County Prosecutor, argued for a lengthy sentence before Judge Kerry Rowden. “I am satisfied with the sentence. Mr. Nash has demonstrated an inability to function in society due to drug abuse, crimes of violence, and habitual stealing.” said Fox.
Mr. Nash still has several cases awaiting trial for which Fox indicated he is seeking consecutive sentences. “I am hopeful that before it is all said and done Mr. Nash will be a very old man before he sees the outside of a prison.”