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Woman charged with hindering prosecution of Dixon murder
DIXON, Mo. (Sept. 30, 2021) -- A woman described in court records as a female acquaintance of Mark Ethington was charged Tuesday with hindering prosecution and tampering with physical evidence in a murder case against the man charged with killing him.

Cherie L. Kelley, 44, of Dixon, faces one to four years In state prison if convicted. Charges filed by Kevin Hillman of the Pulaski County Prosecutors Office say she "obstructed, by means of deception, law enforcement officials from performing an act that might aid in the apprehension and prosecution of Brandon Veasman, by leaving the scene of the murder with him, concealing bloody clothing with him, and not reporting the murder to anyone." The charges also say she "concealed bloody clothing with the purpose to impair its availability in the investigation of the murder of Mark Ethington," and in doing so, impaired and obstructed Veasman's prosecution for first-degree murder.

Court records say Ethington was reported dead on the morning of Sept. 17 by "an unknown caller who located the body" outside of a home on the 11000 grid of Highway MM, later determined to be Ethington's home. After being arrested on an unrelated charge, Veasman "admitted to being at Ethington's residence with another girlfriend" early that morning, where he saw Ethington at that residence with Kelley, "a female acquaintance of Ethington's."

Veasman told investigators that he took the girlfriend to another residence, dropped her off, "decided to return to Ethington's residence to murder him," drove back to the home "where Ethington and Kelley were still located, and stabbed Ethington multiple times with a knife."

"According to Veasman, Kelley was inside the residence at the time and present during the stabbing," court records say. "During a search of Ethington's residence, investigators located numerous items belonging to Kelley, which corroborated Veasman's recollection of the events. After committing the crime, Veasman departed the residence in a vehicle with Kelley. As Veasman and Kelley left the area, Veasman admitted discarding his shoes along the route, and later disposed of the pants he was wearing, as did Kelley. Veasman informed investigators he concealed the pants belonging to Kelley and hid them in an inconspicuous location. The pants were later located by investigators in the location Veasman described, and had what appeared to be blood on the pants. Veasman transported Kelley to another residence after the clothing was discarded and the two parted ways."

Kelley wasn't located until Sunday of this week when she was arrested on other outstanding warrants. According to court records, during the period between Ethington's killing and Kelley's arrest, she "made no attempt to contact law enforcement regarding the crime" and "after her arrest, Kelley refused to speak with investigators about the incident and requested an attorney."

Court records don't indicate any attorney currently representing Kelley in the Ethington case or a separate pending charge of possession of methamphetamine in Miller County. In her most recent prior court case from 2019, she was represented by the public defender.

In that Miller County case, county deputies reported that a car in which Kelley was a passenger had been stopped on March 13 in Iberia, and after a routine check determined that she had an active parole warrant, she "removed three syringes from her person and handed them" to the arresting officer, admitting that "she had used them to inject drugs." Jail staff later reported that she "turned over another syringe that she had concealed in her shorts and a plastic bag that contained white residue" believed to be methamphetamine. She was charged on Sept. 5 with the Class D felony of possession of a controlled substance, for which she could spend one to seven years in state prison, and a Class A misdemeanor of possession of drug paraphernalia with intent to use, for which she could receive a $500 fine.

Kelley previously lived in Crocker, and according to court documents filed in 2019 by Crocker Pd Chief Nick Pappas, local law enforcement "knew she had a past narcotic history" when they received a call that she was asking people for cigarettes at a Crocker gas station on July 13 of that year. Pappas determined she had an active felony probation warrant for possession of a controlled substance and she admitted to Pappas that she "had heroin in her purse and numerous syringes." That arrest led to a Class D felony charge of possession of a controlled substance to which she pleaded guilty on Oct. 30, and was sentenced to three years in state prison with dismissal of two other pending charges.

Kelley has an extensive court record in other cases dating back at least to 1999.

Among them are:

• A 2015 guilty plea to a Class A misdemeanor of prohibited use of a driver's license after presenting the license of another person to officers when she was a passenger in a vehicle stopped by Crocker police following a chase. According to court records, at the time she presented the license of another person, she "was a wanted person in the state of Missouri for failure to appear on possession of a controlled substance." She was sentenced to two days in the county jail with credit for time served and fined $100.

• Also in 2015, she pleaded guilty to a Class C felony of possession of heroin in August of the previous year. She told Crocker police when arrested, and in possession of a syringe loaded with heroin, that she normally used a half-gram of heroin per day which cost her $100 for the half-gram, and "stated she normally cannot afford to pay for the heroin and she would pay for her addiction by having sex for $100." She failed to show up in court on March 25, 2015, had a warrant issued for her arrest, and after being arrested, pleaded guilty on May 13 to the charge in return for a recommendation by the prosecutor that she be sentenced to five years in state prison consecutive to an earlier charge from 2013, with suspended execution of sentence, and placed on five years probation. Circuit Judge John Beger followed the prosecutor's recommendation with 40 hours of community service and payment of $300 to the County Law Enforcement Restitution Fund. Prosecutors filed multiple motions to revoke her probation, which Beger did on Nov. 18 after she admitted to using a controlled substance, and Beger executed the prior order to send her to state prison for five years.

• In 2013, she was ordered to pay $208 per month in child support.

• Also in 2013, she was charged with a Class C felony of possessing oxycodone on April 11 during a Lake Area Narcotics Enforcement Group search of her Crocker home. She failed to appear for court in March 2014, had a warrant issued for her arrest, was arrested, failed to appear again in September, had a new arrest warrant issued, and pleaded guilty in January 2015 to an amended Class A misdemeanor charge of possession of drug paraphernalia with intent to use, for which she was sentenced to pay a $100 fine.

• In a separate 2013 case, Kelley was charged with a Class C felony of possessing heroin on Jan. 27, 2011, during a Lake Area Narcotics Enforcement Group search of her Crocker home two years earlier. She pleaded guilty in May 2013, was sentenced to five years in state prison, 40 hours community service, and $300 to the CLERF fund. Execution of her sentence was suspended and she was placed on five years supervised probation, but failed to complete her community service by July 2013 and had motions filed to revoke her probation in December 2013, March 2015, June 2015, October 2015, and November 2015. She failed to show up for court multiple times, had multiple arrest warrants issued, and in November, had her probation revoked and was sent to state prison.

• In 2011, she was charged with a Class A misdemeanor of possession of drug paraphernalia with intent to use a syringe with methamphetamine residue. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to pay a $300 fine and $118.50 court costs.

• She also has numerous lesser offenses. In 2007, she pleaded guilty to failure to secure a child less than 8 and was sentenced to pay $19.50. In 2011, she twice pleaded guilty to failure to use an adult seatbelt and was sentenced to pay $10 each time. In 2006, she pleaded guilty in July to not having proper license plates and not wearing her seatbelt, and was sentenced to pay $105, but didn't pay on time and had a warrant issued for her arrest until she paid in December. The previous year she also pleaded guilty to the same two offenses, but didn't pay on time and had warrants issued for her arrest until she paid $86 in May 2006. Other seatbelt charges date to 1999 in Phelps County.

• Kelly also has a $2325.50 civil judgment against her from Phelps County Regional Medical Center from 2001; court records say there's no report on file of her satisfying the civil judgment against her.

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