POPLAR BLUFF -- A Poplar Bluff man was sentenced to 15 years in prison Tuesday after pleading guilty to conspiring to have another man he was accused of assaulting killed to prevent him from testifying against him.
Walter Lee Smith Jr., 52, pleaded guilty as charged to the Class B felony of conspiracy before Presiding Circuit Judge Mark Richardson, according to Butler County Prosecuting Attorney Kevin Barbour.
After accepting the plea, Richardson sentenced Smith to the maximum of 15 years on the charge.
Smith entered his plea at what was supposed to be his arraignment on the charge before Richardson. He also was to be arraigned Tuesday on a Class C felony of second-degree assault.
"It was a little unexpected. -- We made the offer and they accepted it," Barbour explained. " -- The case was well documented and well investigated, and that made for an easy case."
In exchange for his plea, Barbour said, he dismissed the felony assault charge against Smith.
The assault charge had stemmed from a Nov. 9 incident at Mark Sullivan's residence in the 800 block of North D Street that sent Sullivan to the hospital for treatment.
Sullivan, according to Patrolman Shane Bates' report, told officers Smith "tried to stab him with a knife, but Sullivan was able to grab Smith's arm and prevent the stabbing."