Man accused of assaulting teen to appear Tuesday

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Sheriff: Whole deal could have been prevented

A Barry County rancher is set to appear in court Tuesday for disposition after being accused of assaulting a teenager with an axe handle, breaking the teen's legs and nose.

The Barry County Prosecuting Attorney's Office has charged James Mason, 42, of Cassville, with three felonies: first degree-assault causing serious physical injury, a class A felony, armed criminal action, an unclassified felony, and first-degree property damage, a class D felony.

On Feb. 9, Mason allegedly lifted the rear of a truck -- driven by 16-year-old Tyler Pendergraft -- with a skid loader at a residence on Farm Road 1195 near Cassville, according to a probable cause statement from Barry County Deputy Michael Moore. Mason then allegedly beat Pendergraft with an axe handle, breaking both of his legs and his nose. Moore said in the statement that Pendergraft believed Mason was going to kill him, as Mason allegedly said he was going to bury Pendergraft.

An ambulance transported Pendergraft to Cox South Hospital in Springfield, where he had emergency surgery on his right leg.

"Pendergraft now has a metal rod in his right leg, and he has a messed up jaw," said Barry County Sheriff Mick Epperly. "That could have been prevented, the whole deal. The allegations are that [Pendergraft] had been stealing diesel fuel from [Mason], as he had worked for him in the past."

If Pendergraft had been stealing diesel fuel, Mason should have contacted the Sheriff's Office, Epperly said.

"If Mr. Pendergraft was stealing, we don't condone that, but we certainly don't condone the act of vigilante justice used against him," Epperly said.

Epperly said Mason claims to have a game camera containing footage of Pendergraft stealing the fuel, but Mason has not supplied the camera to authorities, nor told them where it may be found.

The Sheriff's Office is still looking for Mason's 16-year-old son, who was allegedly involved in the incident, Epperly said. Mason is from Colorado. He has been in the area for about a year. He owns a cattle ranch by Jenkins, and he has more cattle near Longview in McDonald County.

Shawn Garrison, of Barry County, owns the truck that Mason allegedly lifted, causing damage that led to the property damage charge.

Mason has a disposition hearing at 9 a.m. Tuesday in the Barry County Judicial Center.

Neosho Attorney Charles R. Rhoades represents Mason, who remains in the Barry County Jail with a cash bond set at $250,000.

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