Independence man sentenced on meth conviction

Jeff Lehr
The Joplin Globe

NEVADA, Mo. –  A Vernon County judge has sentenced an Independence man to some shock time in prison on convictions for dealing meth from a motel room in Nevada while in possession of a firearm.

Joshua T. Stoneking, 36, pleaded guilty June 15 in Vernon County Circuit Court to counts of delivery of a controlled substance and unlawful possession of a firearm in a plea deal dismissing a related count of second-degree trafficking in drugs.

Judge David Munton accepted the plea bargain and assessed the defendant the agreed-upon length of sentences of 14 years for the drug conviction and four years for the firearm offense. The judge ordered that the terms run concurrently and be served at the Institutional Treatment Center under the state's shock incarceration program, with the court to review the case after 120 days for possible placement of the defendant on probation.

Stoneking and co-defendant Emily L. Collar, 30, of Nevada, were arrested on drug-dealing charges Feb. 6 when the Vernon County Sheriff's Department served a search warrant on a room at the Nevada Inn and found Collar sitting on a bed in the room with digital scales, two glass pipes, some drawstring bags and a crystal substance in plain view on a table near the bathroom, according to a probable-cause affidavit. Inside the drawstring bags, officers found more bags containing a total of 120 grams of meth.

They also seized marijuana, spoons, syringes and a cellphone on which they found messages discussing the sale of meth and the involvement of Collar's "plug," or supplier, in what she was doing at the motel.

Collar told officers that Stoneking had just left the room to go to a gas station next door, and he was stopped on his way back and taken into custody. An affidavit states that he had a handgun on him and $775 in his wallet, including several $20 bills matching the serial numbers of bills used by undercover officers who had conducted a controlled buy leading to the search of the room.

Collar pleaded guilty to trafficking in May and was sentenced to 13 years in prison.