Thursday, July 12, 2018

McDonald County prosecuting attorney files felony DWI charge against Meerwald

The McDonald County Prosecuting Attorney's office filed felony driving while intoxicated charges today against the man whose drunk driving nearly 14 years ago caused the deaths of two people.

A $5,000 cash-only bond was set for Edward Meerwald, 63, Noel, who was stopped by the Highway Patrol June 17 as he was speeding on MO 59.

In the probable cause statement, Trooper Derek Carnagey says Meerwald was driving 77 miles per hour on a motorcycle in a 60 zone south of Split Log Road.

"When I turned around and activated my emergency lights, the vehicle continued southbound at approximately the same speed. Eventually, the driver observed my patrol car and emergency lights behind him."

Meerwald told the trooper he had been to Joplin and was driving to his daughter's home. Carnagey smelled alcohol on his breath and asked if he had been drinking. Meerwald said he had two beers.

"I informed him two beers would definitely not place him anywhere near the legal limit."

According to the statement, Meerwald voluntarily provided a breath sample on the trooper's portable tester. Despite his claim that he had only two beers, Meerwald said he would fail the test. The sample registered .177, more than twice the legal limit.

Because of the test and Meerwald's statements, Carnagey asked him to perform further tests. "Meerwald claimed he had issues with both feet being previously broken, along with cellulitis in his legs causing swelling."

Carnagey placed Meerwald under arrest and took him to the Pineville Police Department for a chemical breath test.

The second test registered .121.

Meerwald was released to a sober driver after processing because he did not have diabetes medication with him, according to the statement.

The felony charge was determined because Meerwald pleaded guilty to two counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the July 30, 2004 deaths of Jessica Mann, 7, Joplin, and her grandfather Jim Dodson, 69, Neosho.

 Meerwald, intoxicated and driving at a high rate of speed, ran his car off Highway 86 near Neosho and killed the two, who were standing in Mr. Dodson's driveway.

Meerwald was sentenced to seven years for each death, with the sentences to run concurrently, but spent nowhere near that much time in prison.

McDonald County Circuit Court records show Meerwald's first hearing on the speeding charge is scheduled for July 30, the 14th anniversary of the deaths of Jessica Mann and Jim Dodson.

No court date has been set for the DWI charge.

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