Charges filed in Golden murder

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Beatty faces 4 felonies, has $1 million bond

Official charges have been filed against Michael Beatty, 49, of Springfield, who is accused of shooting Golden man Ed Smith three times with two different firearms, then attempted to burn down the mobile home at 26511 Farm Road 1255, where the incident occurred.

The charges were filed Wednesday and include first-degree murder and second-degree attempted arson. Smith's autopsy was completed Thursday morning, and preliminary results showed he was shot with a .22 twice, once in the head and once in the chest, then he was shot with a .410 one time in the head.

Investigators interviewed Beatty Wednesday, as he was too intoxicated at the time of arrest to complete an interview, according to deputies.

"We've done the interview and pretty much have a confession," said Mick Epperly, Barry County sheriff.

Epperly declined to elaborate on Beatty's statements during the interview.

A .22 rifle was found in the yard at the scene on Tuesday, and Epperly said he believes investigators have located the second weapon used.

"We will have to do the forensics on them, but I believe they are the ones," he said. "Everyone is putting the evidence where it needs to be and completing their reports, so it all went pretty good."

According to a probable cause statement filed by Detective Rob Evenson with the Barry County Sheriff's Office, a caller reported the shooting of Smith, 68, at about 11:18 a.m. Tuesday, and that Beatty had fled the scene in Smith's car. The caller also reported Beatty was armed, and the caller was afraid for his life and believed Beatty may shoot him.

The caller, a close neighbor, also said he saw Smith's vehicle leaving frantically at about 2-2:30 a.m., nearly wrecking on the way out of the driveway. Epperly said the report was consistent with Smith's time of death, but the neighbor did not hear a gun shot. He said the neighbor saw the car leave, then return shortly after.

Deputies Angela Cole and Bill Watkins arrived on the scene and entered the home, where they found doors open and the odor of gasoline coming from inside the residence. Watkins then located Smith lying face-up on a bed in the middle south bedroom of the home, buried under a pile of clothes and bed sheets. The statement reported Watkins also noticed blood stains on the bedding, as well as the walls of the bedroom.

Not at the scene when law enforcement arrived, a search was initiated for Beatty and for Smith's white Chrysler 200. According to the statement, a passerby reported a white car was in a ditch on Farm Road 2250, about three miles south of Smith's home. Epperly said Beatty also called 911 himself to report the wreck.

Evenson, Epperly and Det. Doug Henry went to the area and located the car. While on the way there, another passerby said she saw a man hiding in the bushes east of the vehicle. Less than two hours after the search began, investigators apprehended Beatty without incident. He was not injured from the wreck, and he was intoxicated, according to deputies.

Epperly said Beatty had bruising on his neck consistent with choking, which he believes is part of the struggle from an altercation the night before that led to the alleged murder.

"He had some time to get some plans put together, and it seems like that's when he decided to burn down the trailer," Epperly said.

According to the probable cause report, a search warrant was obtained and deputies determined Smith was killed by multiple gunshots. Evenson said in the statement Beatty attempted to conceal the crime and body with the pile of clothing and bedding, allegedly dousing it with gasoline and attempting to light it on fire.

"The fire did not take hold and did not burn other than a small area where some leaves were piled up and lit on fire in the living room, next to the room where the body was located," Evenson said.

Evenson also said the investigation indicated Beatty made some attempts to clean himself and his clothing before fleeing the scene in Smith's vehicle.

The official charges against Beatty include: first-degree murder, a class A felony; second-degree attempted arson, a class D felony; armed criminal action, an unclassified felony; and tampering with a motor vehicle, a class C felony.

According to a Missouri State Highway Patrol arrest report, Beatty was arrested at 2:11 p.m. and charged with driving while intoxicated, driving without a license, careless and imprudent driving involving an accident and no seat belt. He also had a misdemeanor warrant out of Greene County for assault.

According to court documents, Beatty has a warrant in Greene County for failure to appear on Jan. 12 on a misdemeanor charge of third-degree domestic assault.

He is being held in the Barry County jail on a cash-only bond of $1 million for the alleged felonies, plus an extra $1,000 from the Greene County warrant. A court date has not been set.

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