A Willow Springs woman charged with second-degree murder in the May 2018 stabbing death of another Willow Springs resident has pleaded guilty to one count of voluntary manslaughter and one count of armed criminal action.
Sara Messex-Pullen, 49, entered the plea Tuesday before 25th Judicial Circuit Court Judge William Earl Hickle in Phelps County after the being granted a change of judge. Hickle sentenced Messex-Pullen to 15 years in prison for voluntary manslaughter and five years for armed criminal action, the sentences to run consecutively, according to court documents.
She was also originally charged with two counts of armed criminal action and one count of first-degree assault related to an altercation that led to the death of Larry Randall Tucker, 36.
According to court records filed following an interview with Howell County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Torey Thompson, the incidents leading up to the assault began May 5, 2018, when Messex-Pullen went to a property on Z Highway to confront a woman about the theft of her wallet, which reportedly contained $1,000.
Messex-Pullen said she suspected the woman or Tucker and his wife of stealing it, and went to a shop building on Z Highway the next day after hearing a rumor Tucker had been seen with $200 cash on him.
Messex-Pullen admitted to taking a spike attached to a string to use as a weapon in case of a fight, Thompson reported. An argument began between Messex-Pullen and the Tuckers and she swung the spike at them, but someone took the weapon away from her, she told Thompson.
Thompson reported she told him she grabbed a knife, got back on her feet and stabbed Tucker in the chest once.
Messex-Pullen and a man she arrived with then got back into their vehicle and left the scene. She reportedly returned to her home on AM Highway, changed clothes and put her blood-stained shorts into a washing machine.
She said she then went to Dollar General in Willow Springs and bought cigarettes and eyeglasses to replace a pair broken during the fight.
Messex-Pullen said she was notified via text message Tucker had died from his wound. She and the same male acquaintance then left her home on foot and walked through the woods to Cabool, where she hid in a camper trailer until her arrest.