STEELVILLE - Authorities have charged James Crocker, 59, of Steelville with 2nd-degree murder in the Saturday afternoon killing of a floater on the Meramec River.
Police say that on July 20, 2013 a dispute occurred between Crocker and Paul Franklin Dart Jr., 48, of Robertsville, in Franklin County. The dispute may have concerned private property issues - Crocker's address is listed as being near the scene of the shooting. A probable cause affidavit filed with in Crawford County states that Crocker was upset because someone was urinating on/near his property. A group of floaters stopped on a gravel bar when one of the male floaters urinated on property near the river.
Crocker allegedly owns property near the shooting scene. Several of the male floaters argued with Crocker and Crocker fired warning shots at them. At some point, Dart, the victim, was shot in the face from about three feet away. Dart's stepson was one of the men involved in the dispute and (according to the Post-Dispatch) Dart's wife witnessed the shooting, as did many of the floaters on the scene.
Crawford County Sheriff Randy Martin told the Sullivan Journal on Saturday that the victim was shot on the river with a handgun. The Post-Dispatch is reporting that the gun is a 9mm.
The victim was deceased when authorities arrived and was later transported to Hutson Funeral Home in Steelville. (see story here)
The shooting occurred downstream from the Highway 19 Bridge in a remote area off Highway T between Cuba and Steelville.
Bond was set at $650,000.
More information coming.