A Stone County woman has plead guilty and been sentenced on charges from 2019, when she was initially charged with domestic assault, abuse of elderly, arson and murder.
Elizabeth Horn, 31, of Reeds Spring, was sentenced to 21 years for second-degree murder and seven years for 1st Degree property damage in the Jasper County Circuit Court in Joplin on Wednesday, July 7. Horn’s sentences are to run concurrently.
According to Branson Tri-Lakes News archives, on Nov. 16, 2019, Stone County deputies were dispatched to a residence on Missouri State Highway OO for an ex parte violation. As the deputies were en route, they were advised the suspect had set fire to the home.
Southern Stone County Fire Public Information Officer Eric Nielsen said the house fire on OO Highway was called in by a passerby who also said there was a female on scene acting suspicious. The occupant was not home at the time of the fire, according to the archives.
According to a probable cause statement from Sept. 26, 2019, just weeks before the fire, a Stone County deputy was dispatched to the same home as the fire about an assault and violation of an ex parte. The resident told the deputy Horn pushed the door open and attacked him by striking him repeatedly with a closed fist to his upper body and head, which left a 2-inch cut on his right arm, a small cut on his forehead and a cut near his left ear.
The resident said he was in fear for his safety and had filed an ex parte against Horn the day before.
The ex parte was issued on Sept. 25, 2019. A full order of protection against Horn was ordered on Oct. 10, 2019. In that case, Horn was charged with two felonies: second-degree assault and third-degree domestic assault, as well as two counts of misdemeanor resisting arrest and one count of misdemeanor abuse of elderly, according to court records.
Horn was arrested at the scene of the fire and was initially booked into the Stone County Jail on a 24-hour hold for arson, according to archives.
While she was being booked into the Stone County Jail she stated, “I killed someone today.” When asked who she had killed, Horn shared the name of her victim but refused to answer any more questions until she spoke with her attorney, according to the probable cause statement.
Due to her statement, the deputy requested central dispatch search for the name she gave to try to locate an address. Central dispatch was able to find the address of the person Horn said she killed, according to a probable cause statement from Nov. 16, 2019.
Deputies responded to Corewood Lane in Reeds Spring, where they found the body of Walter Scott, 74, inside the home. Scott was found to have numerous stab wounds in both his chest and back and a belt around his neck, according to the November probable cause statement.
Autopsy results concluded Scott’s cause of death was stab wounds, court records stated.
While investigating the case, the Stone County Sheriff’s Department found blood on Horn’s clothes consistent with the victim’s blood, and she was in the vicinity of the victim’s residence earlier that day, according to court records.
Murder charges were filed and Horn’s attorney requested a change of judge and venue in the case on Jan. 6, 2020. The case was assigned to Judge Gayle Crane from Jasper County and transferred to Joplin.
The start date for the case was set for Dec. 6, but on July 6, Horn appeared in custody with her attorney and withdrew her plea of not guilty which was previously entered and filed a petition to enter a plea guilty and a plea bargain memorandum. The court found the guilty plea was made voluntarily and intelligently, with the full understanding of the charges, the consequences of the plea, and the understanding of rights attending a jury trial. The court found Horn understood the effect of a guilty plea and also found there was a factual basis for the plea, court records stated.
According to Missouri law, murder in the second degree charge is a Class A felony and will require Horn to serve a minimum of 85% of her sentence, which means she is not eligible for parole until 2039.
“I am pleased that Judge Crane gave a substantial sentence in this case,” Stone County Prosecutor Matt Selby said in an email. “Not only is it twenty-one years but under the law she is required to serve at least eighty-five percent of her sentence. That means that she should be at least sixty years old by the time she completes her sentence or is paroled.”
To view the original story see ‘Woman charged with murder: Suspect allegedly admitted to the killing while being booked for another crime” at bransontrilakesnews.com.