PULASKI COUNTY, Missouri- While Shawn Green will spend life in prison following his sentencing this week for second-degree murder, and an admitted accomplice, Tommy York, was sentenced yesterday to 15 years for burglary as part of a plea deal in the July 2014 beating death of Korean War veteran Robert Willhite, several others initially charged in the murder investigation have since received much lower sentences as part of plea deals, the Pulaski County Daily News is reporting.
Those people are Roby Sapere, 59, of Richland; Melissa A. Winkle, 36, of Crocker; and Jessica Berry, 26, of Dixon.
Sapere was initially charged with the Class A felony of second-degree murder, the same charge to which Green later pleaded guilty and for which he, like Green, could have received 10 to 30 years or life in state prison, depending on circumstances. He also faced a Class A felony charge of first-degree robbery accusing him of stealing coins from Willhite, a Class B felony charge of burglary, the same charge to which York pleaded later guilty and for which both men could have received five to 15 years in state prison, and three Class C felonies, one of receiving stolen property (Willhite’s collectible coins), one of stealing the coins, two of stealing firearms (Willhite’s two AR-15 rifles), and one of felonious restraint, each of which could have led to a two to seven year term in state prison, up to one year in county jail, or in the case of the thefts, up to $20,000 or twice the value of the stolen property, whichever was less. The second-degree murder charges against York and Sapere didn’t accuse them of doing the beating; prosecutors had initially said they were present committing other crimes while Willhite was being beaten to death.
On March 5 of last year, Sapere entered an Alford plea — an admission that if the case went to trial there would be enough evidence to convict — in which all the charges except receiving stolen property were dismissed. While Sapere and his private defense attorney, Jim Thomas, said they understood Sapere could receive two to seven years in state prison, up to a year in county jail, and a $5,000 fine, court documents say Prosecutor Kevin Hillman agreed to recommend that the judge suspend execution of his sentence for seven years and place him on five years of probation with conditions including that he pay $300 to the CLERF (Pulaski County Law Enforcement Restitution Fund), pay $4,275 in victim restitution at the rate of $75 per month, and serve 120 days shock time with credit for time already served, the report said.
Circuit Judge John Wiggins approved that plea deal. However, six months later Sapere was back in court for a probation violation hearing, and on Sept. 18 he admitted “to violating his probation by not notifying probation officer of his whereabouts.” The judge approved an agreement by the Pulaski County Prosecutors Office with Sapere to continue his probation with two additional conditions of four days of shock time with credit for time served in jail, and 20 hours of additional community service.
Just five days later, Sapere faced a new motion on Sept. 23 to revoke his probation, with an Oct. 7 hearing. That hearing was delayed for a month. On Nov. 2, Sapere’s roommate filed for and received an ex parte order of protection from Sapere, who appeared in court on Nov. 9 and consented to the protection order by Associate Circuit Judge Mike Headrick. More field violation reports were filed, the most recent Aug. 30 of this year, but court documents don’t indicate additional penalties against Sapere for probation violations.
Melissa Winkle wasn’t charged with the murder of Willhite but was charged with offenses related to the theft of items from his home. Initial charges were a Class D felony of possession of burglary tools, a Class A misdemeanor of receiving stolen property, a game camera, and a misdemeanor of driving without a valid license. The Class D felony could have led to two to four years in state prison or up to one year in county jail, and according to court documents, was filed because she “possessed black mechanic gloves, a red hammer with a pointed end, a short handled axe, a chisel, a wig, a tan hat and a pair of camouflage pants… with a purpose to use the same in making an unlawful forcible entry into a building, an inhabitable structure or a room thereof.”