Shumate no longer faces criminal charges in case

Friday, September 13, 2002

JACKSON, Mo. -- A Dutchtown, Mo., man formerly accused of having sex with an underage female relative and bribing her not to testify no longer faces criminal charges because prosecutors don't think a jury will believe the witness.

Cape Girardeau Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle confirmed Thursday he dropped a witness tampering charge against Ronald E. Shumate, 41, who was acquitted by a jury earlier this summer of three counts of statutory rape and incest.

A then-15-year-old relative told police Shumate sexually assaulted her three times between June and September 2001. The girl said Shumate bought alcohol at the Rhodes Truck Stop at Scott City, Mo., and got her drunk in his tractor-trailer rig. However, a defense witness, truck stop owner Gene Rhodes, said the truck stop does not sell liquor.

The jury deliberated for 40 minutes before issuing a "not guilty" verdict.

Defense attorney Stephen Wilson said the jury found his client not guilty because they didn't believe the alleged victim. He said his client is "very, very happy" the tampering charge has been dropped.

"The lack of a jury's ability to believe her before leads one to the conclusion they wouldn't believe her again," Wilson said.

Swingle and assistant prosecuting attorney Angel Woodruff based their decision to drop the tampering charge on similar findings after reviewing the police reports again.

"We felt that if a jury wasn't persuaded by the witness in the incest case, there wouldn't be much of a chance of convincing another jury now with the same witness," he said.

Shumate was previously convicted for driving while intoxicated, assaulting a police officer and possession of methamphetamine. He pleaded guilty to a felony charge of possession with intent to distribute Valium in 1990. He received a 10-year suspended sentence.

335-6611, extension 160

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