OREGON COUNTY -- The two men who were charged with felony burglary, felony stealing and felony assault in connection with an incident at Couch School last December where Chief Deputy Eric King was injured were in Oregon County Circuit Court to answer those charges April 3.
The burglary and assault charges against Mark A. Vaughn, 20, of West Plains were dropped. He pleaded guilty to stealing and was given a suspended sentence imposition (SSI) of three years by Circuit Judge Richard D. Moore.
Oregon County Circuit Clerk and Recorder Dorothy Barton said an SSI means Vaughn's criminal record will be wiped clean if he can stay out of trouble for three years. Moore also sentenced him to 30 days in the Oregon County Jail, with time served taken into account, and supervised probation during the next three years.
David Bates, 20, of West Plains faced the same three felony criminal charges in connection with the burglary, stealing and assault on officer King at Couch School Dec. 1, 2005.
Bates also had the burglary and assault charges against him dropped and pleaded guilty to stealing. Bates was sentenced to four years in the Missouri Department of Corrections.
Deputy King said he responded to an alarm that went off at the school Dec. 1. He said when he arrived Couch School Superintendent Rolla Fraley was waiting for him at the front of the school.
King said he and Fraley were checking a mobile classroom where the alarm sounded when they heard a noise coming from the rear of the high school building. King said when he ran around the corner of the high school building he saw a small, dark colored car parked in front of the school cafeteria and noticed someone sitting in the driver's seat and another person standing beside the passenger door, getting into the car.
King said he yelled, "Sheriff's department, stop." The officer said as he moved toward the car, the driver backed the car up rapidly, spinning tires, slinging gravel and headed straight for him.
King said he tried to move out of the vehicle's path, but the vehicle struck his upper right leg.
King interviewed both men in February and they admitted to stealing a computer system from the school valued at $990.
During the interview Vaughn said Bates was driving the car and Bates said Vaughn was driving the car when they fled the school. Vaughn said he did remember hearing a thud before they left the school.