Nearly two months have passed since the arrest of Darren Winans, 21, Jasper for the murders of Bob and Ellen Sheldon, Carthage, and the area's newspaper of record, the Joplin Globe, has still not printed one word about Winans still being free after committing one probation violation after another.
The Globe saw fit to print every grisly detail of the Sheldons' murder, but still has not delved into what should be a central issue in the coverage of the story- how is it that Darren Winans was still free and able to allegedly commit these murders. Also, if Winans was still free after repeated violations, how many other potentially violent offenders are walking the streets?
The following information comes from the August 4 Turner Report:
Barton County Circuit Court online records indicate Darren Winans, 21, Jasper, one of two men charged with the Oct. 11, 2008, murders of Bob and Ellen Sheldon of Carthage, was in court July 28 and "denies all violation allegations."
The probation violation was filed after the Jasper County Sheriff's Department charged Winans and Matthew Laurin, 19, Springfield, with two counts of first degree murder, two counts of armed criminal action, and a single count of burglary in connection with the Sheldons' murder.
Court records indicate Judge Charles Curless issued the order that Winans be brought to Lamar for the hearing. Winans will not be required to be in Barton County for the next violation hearing, which is scheduled for 9 a.m. Aug. 25.
An examination of Winans' records indicate that at the time he is alleged to have murdered the Sheldons, he should have been behind bars, since he has a history of parole violations.
Winans pleaded guilty in Barton County Circuit Court March 21, 2006, to stealing a motor vehicle and was sentenced to five years in prison by Judge Curless. At that point, the sentence was suspended and Winans was placed on supervised probation for five years.
His first probation violation was reported Nov. 3, 2006. At a hearing 11 days later, Judge Curless continued the probation. The next violation was filed Jan. 2, 2008, and another filed Jan. 30. No hearing was held for the first violation. The second violation appears to be his arrest on drug charges in Jasper County. Judge Richard Copeland signed off on a deal that let Winans plead guilty to a misdemeanor and sentenced Winans to one year in the county jail, then suspended the sentence and placed him on unsupervised probation for a year. After that, a probation violating hearing was held in Barton County where Curless sentenced Winans to prison for five years, but kept the case on a 120-day callback. Winans' prison stay began May 1, according to court records, and concluded Aug. 28, six weeks and two days before the Sheldons were murdered.
Winans' next probaiton violation was reported three days after the murder, according to court records, with two more violations reported Oct. 30 and Dec. 9. The records do not indicate that hearings were scheduled for any of the three alleged violations.
In the meantime, Jasper County Circuit Court records show Winans' "ex-spouse" asked for a child protection order to be issued May 19. During a May 27 hearing, Winans denied her allegations, but Judge Stephen Carlton issued the full order of protection. Whatever the allegations were, online records do not show that any probation violation was filed.
Apparently, it took two murders to get a hearing.