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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Amick files appeal of life sentence

Friday, September 16, 2011

The same day Senior Judge J. Max Price sentenced Michael Amick, 34, of rural Myrtle to life in prison for murder, Amick filed an appeal.

On July 1, an Oregon County jury found Amick guilty of killing his wife's grandmother, Leona Maxine Vaughan, 67, was shot six times in the head at her daughter's home east of Myrtle in December 2008, and the house was set on fire to cover the murder.

Amick filed the appeal on his own behalf immediately after his sentencing hearing on Aug. 30. During the hearing, Amick's attorney, Dee Wampler of Springfield, stepped down as Amick's defense, citing in his request that Amick had not paid for services beyond the murder/arson trial.

Wampler suggested Amick might file an appeal with an attorney specializing in appeals.

During the week-long trial in July, Amick appeared pale and thin, barely recognizable from his police mug shot taken two-and-a-half years earlier.

Before Price sentenced Amick, he heard from Wampler, who said Amick would not have killed his wife's grandmother for a "few thousand dollars," as was presented in the trial.

The prosecution, led by Assistant Attorney General Kevin Zoellner, presented evidence in court that Vaughan had taken out a bank loan for about $20,000 eight months before her death, and that Amick was responsible for repaying the loan. The payments were about $400 per month.

Before sentencing, Wampler said Amick did not need the money, as he had received a disability settlement in 2004 from an injury he sustained while working for the railroad.

Wampler said Amick received a $50,000 settlement in 2004, another $19,000 later and another $225,000, for a net total of $275,000. The total gross settlement was about $472,000.

Amick then corrected Wampler, and had him tell the judge the settlement was in 2008, not 2004 as Wampler stated.

"This information came to me later," Wampler said of the railroad settlement.

Price said that information should have been brought out during the trial, and not at the sentencing hearing.

In rebuttal, Zoellner said the new information about the settlement "doesn't mean he wouldn't kill to save money. That evidence could have been submitted. It's a little late now."

Price sustained Wampler's motion to step down as Amick's defense, and denied Wampler's motions for a new trial and to reverse the guilty verdict.

On Aug. 31, Oregon County authorities transported Amick to the Bonne Terre Eastern Reception and Diagnostic and Correctional Facility, located 130 miles northeast of Alton, to serve his life term, to run concurrently with a seven-year sentence for second-degree murder and arson.

Authorities said Amick likely will be moved to a permanent facility.

Amick had been housed in the Oregon County jail on the third floor of the courthouse since early December 2008. Officials said the average stay on a murder charge is about 13 months.

Amick's appeal was filed with the Southern District Court of Appeals.

Amick's mother, Linda Amick, who testified to defend her son, paid the filing fee, according to court records.

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