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Jefferson City man pleads guilty to Columbia robbery, restraint

COLUMBIA, Mo. - A Jefferson City man pleaded guilty Wednesday to two of the four charges he was first accused of committing.

Jemell Butler entered the pleas in Boone County court to second degree robbery and felonious restraint, in connection to an October 7 incident in central Columbia. As part of the plea, the state dropped rape, kidnapping and sodomy charges against him. Judge Kevin Crane sentenced Butler to ten years, but recommended him for "shock treatment" under the state's 559 program, where Butler will serve 120 days in prison. The Department of Corrections will then decide whether he will be released, or serve the prison sentence.

Butler's plea relates to a robbery that occurred in the area of Garth Avenue and Oak Street, according to Columbia police. Butler met the female victim online, and agreed to give her and her boyfriend a place to stay. The two walked through a a wooded area "in the area of Garth Avenue and Oak Street," when Butler and two female suspects began hitting her, taking her cellphone, jewelry and purse. The suspects threw her clothes in the woods, the victim told police, and they eventually found her on the 300 block of Oak Street.

A Boone County jury acquitted Butler of sexual assault and armed criminal action in January, after his arrest near Fazoli's on October 20. Butler met that woman online, as well, and she later told police that Butler threatened her with a knife to perform oral sex. The jury found him guilty, though, of stealing that woman's cell phone when he ran from the car during a struggle for the knife, and was sentenced to one year in jail.

Public defender Matthew Mueller, Butler's attorney, said he put a lot of work into the case, and was ready to take the matter to trial. Mueller worked on Butler's other case, and said the shock treatment will coincide with his stealing sentence. Butler is set for release in October, for both that and the recent case.

Columbia police also connected him to another sexual assault in early October, where the victim met her alleged attacker on the classified website backpage.com. The woman from Phelps County came to Columbia, where she said she was physically assaulted and raped several times in a home on "Bryant Parkway." She later picked Butler out of a photo lineup, saying she was "100 percent" sure it was him.


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