Charges filed in wake of teen's death

Thursday, April 5, 2007

A Monett man has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the alcohol poisoning death of an area teenager.

Brandon K. Himes, 22, was charged with involuntary manslaughter in the first degree for "recklessly causing the death of Jessica Murphy by pouring intoxicating beverages into a funnel that she was drinking from."

According to an affidavit of probable cause signed by Monett Police Detective John Allred, a toxicology report from the Murphy's autopsy showed her blood alcohol level to be .406.

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. The home where Murphy's body was found was being rented by Dennis D. Meinke, Jr., 21, and Joseph H. Rattles, 19, who are charged with 10 counts each of providing a house for persons under the age of 21 to possess or drink intoxicating alcohol.

Barry County Prosecutor Johnnie Cox said the charges against Meinke and Rattles are the first ones he has filed under Missouri's "House Party" law.

Both Meinke and Rattles admitted that they invited underage individuals to a birthday party at their house knowing there would be alcohol present at the gathering. The suspects told officers that they did not serve anyone alcohol or purchase any of the alcohol that was consumed during the party.

Witnesses who were interviewed following Murphy's death said the victim was drunk when she asked to "bong a beer" using a six-foot, three-inch hose attached to a quart-sized funnel.

According to witnesses, Himes was observed pouring approximately 375 milliliters of vodka and 375 milliliters of tequila into the bong on top of the beer. Murphy was then seen drinking all of the alcohol poured into the contraption.

Himes told officers that he poured one of the types of alcohol into the bong but not the other and that he did not intend to kill Murphy.

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