McDonald County Massacre
Bill Givens: Public Servant
Bill Givens had drawn his first retirement check, but he was continuing to donate community services as a reserve deputy sheriff. He had severed his community as Mayor, City Marshall, Director of Civil Defense, Vice President of the County Democratic Committee, and he was a member of the Special strike force for the sheriff's department. Besides all this, He was an active member of the Assembly of God Church.
February 4, 1984
On February 4, 1984, Bill Givens and David Attlesey were riding patrol. Bill was driving the patrol car south on highway 59. David testified in court. We were coming to the last hill before we get to Lanagan and observed a car come over the hill. and as it came over the hill, he came into our lane and then he swerved back over into his lane and then I seen him coming back into our lane and Bill had pulled over as far as he could to the right with out going in the ditch and at that time I knew he was going to get hit.
David further then testified concerning the injuries that he had sustained in the collision: " I had four broken ribs, fractured ribs, I had a fractured wrist on both sides, a chipped bone in my shoulder, I had face lacerations, I had a deep cut right here on my hand, and I had fluid on my lungs."
Bill Givens was killed in the collision.
The Other Driver
Under question by Tim Finnical, the prosecutor, Lloyd Perkins, of the McDonald County Sheriff's Department testified the following concerning the driver of the other vehicle:
a: His eyes were glazy.
q: His eyes were glazy?
a: Yes, and determined from the fact that he was coming out of a forty-five mile zone and it was a no passing zone and according to the skid marks and the impact, he was driving at a high rate of speed.
a: And I felt that -- that he without a doubt was intoxicated.
q: You felt he was intoxicated?
a: To the best of my ability, I felt that he was intoxicated.
q: Have you dealt with intoxicated people before?
a: Yes, I have.
q. So at the time, after observing all those characteristics and the skid marks and the impact, small, glassy eyes, stumbling, you made a determination in our own mind there was reason to believe he was intoxicated?
a. Yes, I did.
Jerry Walters, of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, Testified.
q. -- Based on the way he talked, his physical appearance, the way he walked, the way he smelled, did you have an opinion as to whether or not Gerald Landon was intoxicated, in your opinion?
a. Yes, sir, it's my opinion that he was definitely intoxicated.
q. And this was around ten-thirty-two p.m.?
a. Yes Sir,
q. Now, have you given a number of these breathalyzer tests?
a. Yes, I have administered approximately three hundred and fifty tests.
q. So you have had an opportunity in correlating the test results that you referred of the machines with the physical characteristics that you observed of the individuals, is that correct?
a. That’s correct.
q. What were the results of Mr. Landon's test?
a. That he was intoxicated and tested a .20
In Missouri, a blood-alcohol content of .10 is legally drunk. Defense Attorney C.R. Rhoades attempted to have the breathalyzer test suppressed.
On April 17, 1985 The Defendant entered a plea of guilty to vehicular manslaughter is seven years in penitentiary. Five years in the penitentiary for vehicular injury.
The Defendant understood the plea bargaining which took place between the defendants attorney and the state's Prosecutor. Tim Finnical, to be " possibly a hundred twenty days and pre-sentence investigation report and sentencing, by the time the case had reached the point of sentencing, it had been plea bargained down from 7 years in the penitentiary to possibly a hundred twenty days.
* Further discussions concerning the plea bargain included:
Mr. Rhoades: I guess what I'm saying, as I understand, all we've done by our plea bargain is to set a cap on sentencing, that it not exceed 10 days shock time. Is that right?
Mr. Finnical: Yes, we would like to make a recommendation of 120 days shock time, and as I have told you, after the pre-sentence report you are free to argue anything you want in regard to that.
On May 20th 1985 the defendant received the following sentence for injuring David Attlesey and killing Bill Givens:
1. Thirty days in the NewtonCounty jail, seven days incarceration commending on Monday, June 3rd 1985 and terminating on Monday morning June 10th 1985 at 8:00 a.m.
The remaining 23 days were to be served on the week-ends from Friday at 5:00 p.m. till Monday 8:00 a.m. (with three days credit for the 63 hours).
2. One hundred hours community service.
3. Five years of supervised probation.
Judge Henry made such a judgment after considering the defendant's employment, vacation time, and the need to support himself and his family during his incarceration...
There were also letters written to Judge Henry which stated. Gerald is a very fine man, and comes from a good family...having known you for many years, both professionally and personally. I know that you are fair and just, and I felt that I could take this liberty." What concerns Jasper Co MADD is that we were told that if we had of written similar letters on behalf of the victim that the Judge should disqualify himself because it would be highly improper for us, then why isn't it improper for the drunks friend's?
Another statement in the court file is the statement, “The Landon's are considered prominent people in the Noel community..." We do not see how being considered prominent should have anything at al to do with the sentencing, what if he had not been considered prominent?
Bill's widow stated to Jasper County MADD, I have no personal ill-will against Gerald, but we did want Justice, and we feel that Justice was not done. Everything kind of revolved around Bill I never dreamed it could be this lonely.
Considerable experience and energy was spent in an effort which resulted in a 30 day sentence, 23 which were served on the weekends. One observer remarked, why did they go to the trouble? On June 3rd 1985 the following letter was mailed to Judge Henry:
My name is Jana Attlesey I'm 11 years old, I live in Pineville Missouri. On February 4th 1984 I had no idea it turn into a tragic accident my dad is a reserve deputy and the man that was with him too. There names are David Attlesey and Bill Givens, that night at 8:00 p.m. they left, they finally got all there errands all done at Pineville and went to Anderson. they went to the Anderson Police Dept and then went to the cafe for coffee then they were driving towards Noel when my dad saw a car swerving back and forth the car hit them he was a drunk driver he killed Bill Givens and the Doctors said it would have killed my dad to if he wasn't built good the worst thing about it is the man killed a man, hurt my dad very very bad and only gets 30 days in jail. See if you can help me in any way I'd feel gracious to you.
Signed Jena Attlesey