Timmons sentenced to 10 years for firearms possession, forgery

Steve Chapman


A Pierce City man was sentenced on Tuesday, Nov. 8, to 10 years in prison. Lawrence Timmons, 69, received the sentence about four months after being found guilty of six counts of unlawful possession of a firearm. Timmons received a sentence of 10 years on each count, to be served concurrently. Additionally, Timmons pleaded guilty at his sentencing hearing to one count of forgery. He was sentenced to seven years in prison on that charge, but his sentence for forgery will also be served concurrently with his charges for unlawful possession of firearms. The forgery charge stemmed from an incident in 2019 where Timmons lied on an employment application about his criminal past (he had convictions for first-degree robbery and kidnapping) in order to get a job. The charges for unlawful possession of a firearm were from occasions when Timmons was part of an American Legion Honor Guard and fired rifles as part of their funeral services; as a convicted felon, it was illegal for him to use any firearms.

Timmons gained national attention when charged with murder of Cynthia Smith:
Timmons was charged with unlawful firearm possession and forgery in September of 2019; at about the same time, he was also charged with the 1988 murder of Cynthia Smith. The Lawrence County Record previously reported that, according to a press release issued by Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office at the time the murder charge was filed, the case was reopened after the sheriff’s office was contacted by a “private investigation firm who wished to assist with new information that they had received.”
“After several months of on-going investigations, information was turned over to the Lawrence County Prosecutor who presented the information to a grand jury,” the statement read. “After receiving the information, the grand jury issued the indictment on Timmons.”
According to an article which ran in the Record on Thursday, Aug. 11, 1988, Smith was last seen leaving a Mt. Vernon establishment on Thursday, July 28, 1988 (the establishment was later identified as Checker’s Bar and Grill) with an unidentified male. Her body was found 10 days later in a dirt lane leading to Dry Valley Cemetery, about five miles northwest of Pierce City. According to a death notice which appeared in the Joplin Globe on Oct. 5, 1988, Smith’s body was eventually cremated, and the ashes sent to San Mateo, Calif. for interment. The case became the topic of the Cold Justice Documentary “Small Town Predator,” which aired on March 21, 2020. Due to the amount of publicity the murder charge generated, Timmons’s cases were moved on a change of venue to Carthage, in Jasper County.

Murder charged dropped due to change in state law
The murder charge against Timmons was dropped in December of 2021 after a change in state law prevented Don Trotter, Lawrence County prosecuting attorney, from using the testimony of Timmons’s ex-wife, whom he allegedly murdered in Oklahoma, from being used against Timmons at trial.
Under the new law, Trotter said in December of 2021, testimony from a person who has been murdered can only be used against a defendant in a trial if the defendant killed the person to keep them from testifying. Before the law was passed, testimony from a murder victim could be used against the defendant, regardless of their reasons for committing the murder. Also, two other witnesses to the crime also died, and without their testimony, Trotter said at the time, there was not enough evidence for him to move forward.
Timmons was held in the Lawrence County Jail from the time of his arrest on Aug. 19, 2019, until Dec. 21, 2021, after the murder charges were dropped. He was then released to stay at a men’s recovery center in Purdy, where he remained until his conviction on Nov. 8., after which he was remanded to the Jasper County Jail, where as of press time, he remained pending his transfer to the Missouri Department of Corrections. He receives credit for the time he spent in the Lawrence and Jasper County Jails towards his sentence.


Lawrence County Record

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


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