An Ozark County man who pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter last December and was handed a five-year suspended sentence is now charged with two counts of third-degree domestic assault and held without bond, according to court records.
The class E felony charges, one level above a misdemeanor, were filed against Timothy K. Sprague, 34, Gainesville, after two alleged incidents, the latest of which resulted in shots being fired at him.
At about 4:35 p.m. Saturday, Lt. Matt Rhoades with the Ozark County Sheriff's Department reported, he was dispatched to a possible domestic altercation at Sprague's home and spoke with a victim who told him she had been in a relationship with Sprague for about two years. She said they had gotten into an argument before she got in her vehicle and locked the doors, then Sprague allegedly began beating on the vehicle, kicked the doors, tore a windshield wiper off the wiper arm, and rammed her vehicle from behind with his pickup truck, causing significant damage.
The woman told Rhoades that Sprague assaulted and threatened her in the past and she feared for her life that day, believing he was going to kill her.
She told the deputy Sprague's truck was blocking her from leaving and she took out her .22-caliber pistol and fired three shots in self-defense through her rear passenger side window into Sprague's vehicle.
The suspect then reversed and peeled out of the driveway headed east on Highway 181, she said. Sprague called law enforcement to report he had been shot at, and Rhoades' investigation concluded the victim's statement was "most aligned" with available evidence. Sprague was subsequently arrested and transported to jail.
Rhoades stated in court documents, he was assigned to investigate an alleged assault that happened on Aug. 23, when Sprague reportedly got into an argument with a woman he lives with who decided to leave because Sprague was becoming angry.
The statement does not identify the victims as the same person, but both describe the victim as someone the suspect had a roughly two-year relationship with.
As she attempted to go, he reportedly approached her from behind and pushed her against a garage door, put his arm around her neck in a chokehold, and hurt her lower lip and chin while doing so.
He then allegedly pulled her to the ground, got on top of her and grabbed her neck from behind, and started choking her as she was on the ground.
The victim stated she was not able to breathe but didn't lose consciousness and after several seconds, he released her. She then ran to her car without her shoes on and drove to the sheriff's office to make a report, adding she feared for her safety due to past threats and his criminal history.
Probable cause statements and complaints were filed Sunday by Ozark County Prosecutor Curtis Pipkins, according to court records.
In April, Sprague was sentenced to five years of supervised probation after pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter, a class B felony, following the July 15, 2020, shooting death of Kameron S. Stilwell, 28, of Ozark County. He also was handed a five-year suspended imposition of sentence by 44th Judicial Circuit Court Judge R. Craig Carter, meaning the sentence is not to go into effect as long as Sprague does not violate the terms of his probation.
In 2011, Sprague pleaded guilty to two felony counts of first-degree endangering the welfare of a child, and in 2013 was sentenced to five years in prison after breaking a four-year probation attached to a suspended imposition of sentence, also by Carter.
As a convicted felon, Sprague was forbidden to have a firearm, but at the time of the shooting, the court found he could reasonably see Stillwell as a threat because Stillwell was armed with a gun and breaking through a boarded up window at Sprague's home even though Sprague told him to leave several times, and was justified in defending himself and a woman whom Stilwell had previously assaulted and had been imprisoned for doing so.
In court documents it is also noted that Sprague would likely not have been convicted at all if he hadn't been a prior felon, in part stating, "The Court further finds that the victim's official cause of death was both shooting and methamphetamine. Concisely, if Mr. Sprague had not been a prior felon, this case would probably have shown a lawful use of force by the present defendant in defense of either himself or (the victim). This Court is well aware that the defendant is a prior felon and should not have been in possession of a firearm. However, the court must hold that just because a person is a felon does not mean that he loses his right to protect himself or others, especially when those others are methamphetamine-crazed, brandishing a firearm and tearing through an already-boarded up window yelling that he is about to kill someone inside. Accordingly, the Court orders that the defendant's disposition be as follows: suspended imposition of sentence, five years probation, normal conditions of probation."
Sprague is scheduled for an initial appearance Tuesday before 44th Judicial Associate Circuit Court Judge Raymond Gross. Court records show he has not yet hired legal representation.