A Mexico, Mo. man has been sentenced to life in prison plus seven years of additional confinement consecutive for the crimes of Attempted Statutory Sodomy in the First Degree and Resisting Arrest.
Jimmy Dale Burns, age 44, of Mexico, Mo., was convicted by an Audrain County jury after approximately an hour’s deliberation during a January jury trial. The eight men and four women on the jury convicted Burns of the two crimes, which allegedly occurred in the summer of 2017 in Mexico.
The attempted statutory sodomy reportedly occurred with sexual contact with a then 8-year old girl, and the resisting arrest occurred during Burns’ arrest for the crime, when he threatened and fought with officers who came to speak with him.
Prosecuting Attorney Jacob Shellabarger tried the case on January 29.
“This abuser was held accountable because as a community, parents are listening and supporting their children,” Shellabarger said. “When a girl felt uncomfortable with something an adult did to her, she told her parents, who did the right thing–they listened, believed her, trusted their gut, and took serious actions to support and protect her. These parents are heroes for their children, and our community stood with them against this abuser.”
When Burns was first convicted, it was reported that he might face a minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum term of more than 37 years imprisonment.
To some, it may be a surprise that someone with an attempted charge is receiving a life sentence for the attempted crime.
Shellabarger told the Vandalia Leader that this is due to a new statutory overhaul passed in 2014 and enacted in 2017.
While the law can be a little complicated to understand, this case involves a victim younger than 12. This means the statute shows a minimum of 10 years confinement and up to a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Burns also reportedly had a prior conviction of armed robbery from Arkansas in the late 1990s.
Shellabarger’s team argued that Burns was not a candidate for the mandatory minimum prison sentence and the judge agreed.
Shellabarger went on to say the sentence came from a tight reading of the statute.
Cases like this one may see crimes being punished more severely in the future as repeat offenders are expected to also receive higher punishments.
“All of our children deserve to be protected from abuse, and although it’s hard to believe, most children are abused by people they know, respect and trust,” Shellabarger said. “It’s important that parents use opportunities to teach kids about boundaries and body safety in an age appropriate manner. In this case, a mom’s intuition and a child’s bravery stopped an abuser. Because of a jury’s verdict, this beautiful young woman can grow and heal having told the truth about what Jimmy Burns did to her – and can know that our community supported her and her family when she told the truth. This jury delivered a firm, powerful message that when children are hurt in our community that our community will hold the guilty accountable, protect the innocent and ensure a fair trial. This case was difficult for jurors to listen to in that it was evidence of sexual abuse to a young child, but I commend them for the focus, attention and resolve in seeing the case through to a just guilty verdict. Justice has come for that little girl.”
Shellabarger said he thanks Mid-Mo Chapter of Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA), who was a “steady and long-lasting support for the family involved in this case.”