Waite pleads guilty to second-degree murder for 2015 Mt. Vernon killing

Steve Chapman

Robert Paul Waite, Jr.

A Carthage man has pleaded guilty to the 2015 murder of a Mt. Vernon man. Robert Paul Waite, Jr. pled guilty to second degree murder on Tuesday, Dec. 11. Waite, 53, killed Kevin Stafford on Aug. 9, 2015. Stafford was 32 when he was murdered.
According to a probable cause statement filed by the investigating officer, Stafford had earlier in the day reported that his girlfriend, Deannda Mills, had stolen a grill and outdoor table from him. A Mt. Vernon police officer contacted Mills and told her that she needed to return the items. Mills’ mother, Dena Waite, later contacted the officer and said that Robert Waite, her husband, was enraged and on his way to Mt. Vernon.
The officer went to Stafford’s address to de-escalate the situation. Mills and Dena Waite arrived with the table and grill. Shortly afterwards, Stafford contacted the officer and said Robert Waite was driving in a silver Malibu on the street where Stafford’s residence was located.
A short time after receiving the phone call, the officer was dispatched to Stafford’s residence in reference to multiple gunshots. He arrived on the scene and knocked on the door, but there was no answer. The officer then entered the house and found Stafford laying on a couch with a large amount of blood coming from his head. EMS arrived on the scene and determined that Stafford was deceased.
The investigating officer wrote in the probable cause statement that Stafford appeared to have wounds on both his head and his chest. Witnesses said they saw a white male with a handgun leaving the residence.
Robert Waite was apprehended by Carthage Police in a silver vehicle at his residence. Carthage police also advised the investigating officer that Waite stated he had shot Stafford and the gun was in his vehicle. A handgun matching the description given by witnesses who saw Waite leaving the scene was found in the car.
In his petition to enter a plea of guilty, Waite admitted to killing Stafford. In a plea agreement, Waite pled guilty to the second-degree murder charge, and a second charge of armed criminal action was dropped. The petition states the second-degree murder charge carries a sentence ranging from 10 to 30 years, and 85-percent of the sentence must be served before Waite will be eligible for parole.
Waite, who has been held at the Lawrence County Jail since Aug. 10, 2015, will be formally sentenced on Tuesday, March 5.


Lawrence County Record

312 S. Hickory St.
Mt. Vernon, MO, 65712


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