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STEELVILLE, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri murder case will hinge on claims of self-defense and whether a property owner had the right to shoot a canoer who may have intruded on his land.

James Crocker had grown weary of the people encroaching on his property along the Meramec River. A nasty confrontation in July ended when Crocker allegedly shot and killed Paul Dart Jr., who was on a canoe trip.

Defense attorney Michael Bert says Crocker is covered by the state's castle doctrine, which allows the use of deadly force to protect property. Bert says Crocker also felt his life was in danger.

Prosecutors cited witnesses who said Crocker flew into a rage and opened fire after a man relieved himself near his yard. He has been charged with second-degree murder.

 

Published in Local News

STEELVILLE, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri judge has found probable cause for the second-degree murder trial of 59-year-old James Crocker, accused of killing a man on a float trip who stopped on or near Crocker's property.

Crocker, of Steelville, is charged in the death of 48-year-old Paul Dart Jr. Crawford County Associate Circuit Judge Scott Bernstein heard more than an hour of testimony Friday before ruling the case should move forward.

The shooting happened in July after Crocker spotted people from a Meramec River float trip party on a gravel bar that Crocker considered part of his property. Dart was shot in the face during the confrontation.

Defense attorney Michael Bert says Crocker was protecting himself and his property, and felt threatened by rock-wielding members of the float party.

 

Published in Local News

   STEELVILLE, Mo. (AP) - An eastern Missouri man is charged with second-degree murder, accused of shooting another man following an argument along the Meramec River.

   The shooting happened Saturday afternoon. The suspect, 59 year old James Crocker of Steelville, is jailed on $650,000 cash-only bond.

   Court records allege that Crocker, a property owner along the river, was angry that a man on a float trip stopped to urinate on a gravel bar. Crocker is accused of shooting the man's traveling companion, 48 year old Paul Dart, Jr. of Robertsville.

  Dart's widow, Loretta Dart says her husband had tried to intervene to keep the peace.

   "My husband was trying to solve the situation without anyone getting hurt," she said.  "And it wound up taking his life." 

   Dart was shot in the head. Crawford County Sheriff Randy Martin says Crocker then went to a neighboring home and asked a woman to call 911.

   Dart's widow says he was on his annual float trip with about 50 others.

Published in Local News

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