Jan 24, 2020 1:00 AM

Fleeing motorist convicted of causing deadly Missouri crash

Posted Jan 24, 2020 1:00 AM
Morris photo Greene Co.
Morris photo Greene Co.

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — A man who caused a deadly Springfield crash while trying to get away from law enforcement has been convicted of second-degree murder.

A Greene County judge returned the verdict Thursday in the case against Tommy Morris. He opted for a bench trial in which the judge heard evidence about the April 2018 death of 31-year-old Dana Sowards and decided the outcome instead of a jury.

Police say that when narcotics investigators tried to stop Morris after a suspected drug deal, he drove off, ran a red light and caused a four-vehicle pileup. Sowards, a mother of two, was behind the wheel of one of the vehicles. Her husband has filed a lawsuit.

Prosecutor Stephanie Wan focused on a phone call from Morris to his wife, saying he was fleeing from police to get rid of the drugs he had and because he had a warrant.

But Defense attorney Christopher Hatley said that although Morris admitted to driving recklessly, it only qualifies him for involuntary manslaughter, not murder.

Sentencing is set for March 27.

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Jan 24, 2020 1:00 AM
Calif. man cashed stolen tax refund checks in Kansas

KANSAS CITY (AP) —A man was sentenced Wednesday to five years in federal prison with no parole for participating in a scheme to cash more than $447,000 in stolen tax refund checks.

Dante L. Chestnut, 31, of Ontario, California, pleaded guilty in July 2019 to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Chestnut admitted that he and others stole tax refund checks from the mail in April 2016.

They then used driver's licenses and other identification documents to cash the checks at Academy Bank branches in Kansas, Missouri, Arizona, and Colorado, prosecutors said.