Pair accused of thefts released from jail

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Stipulations ordered for Jones, accused of stealing late veteran's property

Two people accused of stealing a vehicle, as well as multiple items belonging to late Army Spec. Christopher Stark, of Monett, have been released from the Barry County jail.

Terri Jones, 43, of Seligman, who is facing felony charges of receiving stolen property and unlawful possession of an illegal weapon, was ordered to be released from the Barry County jail on Feb. 1. According to court documents, Jones was released to her sister, Stephanie Swadley, at 9 a.m. Feb. 1 and was given until noon on the same day to enter the Lafayette House in Joplin for a 30-day substance abuse treatment program.

"If at any time she leaves the program, she must return to the Barry County jail immediately," the order from Associate Circuit Judge Robert Foulke said. "If she successfully completes the program, she will be released on her own recognizance."

Jones was previously being held on a $30,000 bond. Her next hearing, a disposition, is scheduled for March 1 at 8:30 a.m. in Foulke's courtroom.

The other person charged in the thefts, 25-year-old Cody Lowe, of Aurora, is charged with first-degree tampering with a motor vehicle in one case. In a second case, he is charged with two counts of receiving stolen property and one count of illegal possession of an illegal weapon.

In the first case, Lowe posted a $15,000 bond, reduced from $30,000, on Nov. 25, 2015. In the second case, a warrant was issued on Dec. 2, 2015. Two days later, both parties involved agreed to drop the warrant and release Lowe on his own recognizance.

An initial arraignment was held on Jan. 21, and a preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 17 in Foulke's courtroom.

Amy Boxx, Barry County prosecuting attorney, said she is not at liberty to discuss pending cases, but said decisions regarding bond amounts, and any conditions, are made on a case-by-case basis.

"As the purpose of a bond is to ensure the defendant's attendance at required court appearances, and the jail has extremely limited space, especially for female inmates, [own recognizance] bonds are occasionally granted by the court for specific purposes, such as serious medical treatment or drug rehabilitation for those who have obtained a bed date," she said. "Ultimately, the decision rests with the judge whether a bond or its conditions will be changed from the original that was issued by the court at the time the initial charges were filed."

Mick Epperly, Barry County sheriff, said own recognizance releases are rare, and are usually granted only for things like chronic medical conditions. Epperly said he and the investigators in the case are disappointed in Jones' release.

"She's committed a lot of crimes, and the detectives are upset she would get an [own recognizance release], given the extent of the crime," he said. "[Own recognizance releases] are not very common, unless we have a sick person in jail."

Epperly said releasing inmates on their own recognizance for drug treatment may set a dangerous precedent.

"We of course have to make sure [Jones] completes the [substance abuse treatment] program, but I still feel like she committed the crime and shouldn't be freed," he said. "I have a lot of people in jail who need drug treatment. We can't do all of them that same way. How many like this are we going to have?"

Epperly said he does not know of any circumstances making Jones' case different from other similar cases.

The charges against Jones and Lowe stem from a search warrant executed at a home on Longview Lane in Seligman, where deputies recovered multiple items allegedly stolen from properties in Barry County, Seligman, Monett and Benton County, Ark. Items included power tools, home decor, a Honda Accord and numerous boxes containing military items belonging to Stark, which were allegedly stolen from a storage unit in Monett within the last two months. Stark's dog tags were also allegedly found hanging from a nail inside the home. Stark was 22 when he was killed in action on Feb. 28, 2001, in Tangi, Afghanistan, from wounds suffered from an improvised explosive device

Also located on the property was an improvised explosive device, which was made safe by the Bentonville, Ark., Bomb Squad, filled with gun powder, bullets and other pieces of metal.

Det. Robert Evenson, who participated in the search, said the 1998 Honda Accord was allegedly stolen from a residence on Highway DD in Seligman. Lowe's driver's license and other personal property were located inside the vehicle. He said he purchased the car at Jones' residence from a man named Tom Thomas.

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