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Friday, May 6, 2016

Amick guilty of murder

Friday, July 1, 2011 ~ Updated 9:59 AM

An Oregon County jury Friday, July 1, convicted Michael Amick, 34, of rural Myrtle, with shooting his grandmother-in-law to death and burning her house to cover the crime.

The five-woman, seven-man jury deliberated for nearly seven hours before returning with two guilty verdicts, one for second-degree murder and the other for second-degree arson.

Sentencing will be at another hearing in August. The jury reduced the murder charge from first degree, which carries a penalty of life without parole.

Just before noon July 1, the jury began deliberating the murder case that in December 2008 rocked the tiny Myrtle community, estranging families and pitting neighbors against each other.

The prosecution began their closing arguments at 10:30 a.m. in the evidence against Amick. Amick was charged Dec. 5, 2008, with shooting Leona Maxine Vaughan, 67, six times in the head and burning down the house she was staying in at the time.

During jury instructions read by Senior Judge J. Max Price, a retired Dent County Circuit Court judge, the jury was given the option of finding Amick guilty of second-degree murder, which carries a lesser penalty.

Led by Missouri Assistant Attorney General Kevin Zoellner of Jefferson City, the prosecution asked the jury to rely on witness testimony that placed Amick's pickup truck at the home of Jackie Risner (Vaughan's daughter) minutes before neighbor Jake Mayberry saw smoke coming from the house. Vaughan's charred body was found in the smoldering rubble.

Two days later, then-Oregon County Sheriff Tim Ward found burn marks near a pond on Amick's Highway 142 property. A subsequent search revealed a cut-up .22-caliber gun in the pond, the same caliber of weapon used to shoot Vaughan.

Amick, represented by Springfield defense attorney Dee Wampler, has been in the Oregon County jail since that time with bond set at $1 million.

Attorney Adam Woody, an associate of Wampler's, began his closing arguments to the four-woman, eight-man jury at 10:55 a.m., stressing the importance of finding Amick guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt."

Woody said there is not a shred of evidence that actually ties Amick to the crime.

"They want you to believe some pretty unbelievable people," Woody said.

During the three days of testimony, the jury heard from more than a dozen witnesses on both sides of the case, mostly in favor of the defendant, placing him at several locations in the Myrtle area at the time of the Risner home fire on County Road 278.

The defense worked to discredit Mayberry, who was 19 in December 2008, saying he was too high on marijuana to recognize Amick's truck in Risner's driveway that morning. The defense also called witness Wayne Seelye, an eight-time convicted DWI offender, "a con," after his testimony.

Seelye said he was in the Oregon County jail in 2008 when Amick came in and said "the old bitch (Vaughan) got what she deserved."

See next week's paper for a complete story on the trial.

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No, I guess the "old bitch" got justice....

-- Posted by conventional1 on Tue, Jul 5, 2011, at 2:16 PM

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