He told the judge he wanted to plead guilty, but Cory Hamilton’s body language said otherwise.
Hamilton, 37, stood in front of a camera and appeared for a plea hearing by video teleconference on Dec. 12. He did so because he is an inmate in the Christian County Jail in Ozark.
Hamilton sometimes hung his head. He rocked from side-to-side. He looked around the room. Hamilton wore facial expressions of disdain and sometimes dismay. He faces charges in three different cases, but was scheduled to plead to a total of six counts at the hearing held in the Christian County Circuit Court building.
Hamilton told Christian County Presiding Judge Laura Johnson that he did not want to accept a plea offer from the Christian County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.
“No, I don’t want to do it, but my family wants me to,” Hamilton said.
When the judge asked Hamilton if he was satisfied with his attorney’s services, Hamilton paused for five seconds before responding, “I suppose.”
The judge then stopped the plea hearing and called off the deal.
“I’m not going to accept the plea at this time,” Johnson said. “I don’t feel comfortable accepting it at this time.”
“Your honor, I apologize for my behavior. I didn’t realize that I was being that rude, and I would please like to plead,” Hamilton said.
“Well, I’m not going to accept your plea at this time. I’m going to have to give you an opportunity to discuss this further with your attorney, and I don’t know—I don’t know what I’m going to do in your case, but I’m not going to take your plea right now,” Johnson responded.
Hamilton is an inmate in the Christian County Jail in Ozark, and is charged with class D felony stealing, class D felony unlawful possession of a firearm, class D felony tampering with electronic monitoring equipment, class E felony driving while revoked, misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia and misdemeanor speeding.
“I would like to apologize to the courtroom and to my attorney, for my rude—“ Hamilton said, before his speech became garbled by the teleconferencing equipment’s connection from one building to the other.
“Cory, Cory, you don’t have to apologize, it’s okay,” defense attorney Stuart Huffman responded. “Your body language told us that you had some concerns. I’m not going to force anyone to enter a plea when they’re not 100-percent ready and on board to do that. That’s not what we’re about, okay?”
The judge and the attorneys then began to set a new hearing date for Hamilton, which will be in January.
“Please, your honor—,” Hamilton said.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Hamilton. Based on your body language today and the comments that you have made, I just do not feel comfortable at all taking your plea,” Johnson said.
A deputy working in the jail then led Hamilton away from the teleconferencing equipment and into what appeared to be a hallway. He could be heard using expletive language at least twice.
“I don’t want to be here any longer,” Hamilton could be heard saying off camera after his hearing concluded.
Hamilton was one of two men charged following a motorcycle theft in Highlandville in 2018.
On July 10, at 6:27 p.m., a Highlandville man called 911 and told a dispatcher that three men and a woman had robbed him at gunpoint and stolen his 2008 Harley Davidson motorcycle.
In a probable cause statement, a Christian County sheriff’s deputy describes arriving to a business in Highlandville and seeing a black Harley Davidson lying at the bottom of an embankment off of Winslow Drive.
The deputy wrote that he spotted the motorcycle about 300 yards from where a man allegedly attempted to steal it. The deputy noticed a screwdriver jammed into the motorcycle’s ignition.
The bike’s owner told deputies that three men stole the motorcycle he was about to trade for a pickup truck. One of the men, identified as Hamilton, allegedly displayed a small silver handgun and threatened to kill the motorcycle owner if he did not leave.
The owner alleged that another man, later identified as Morgan J. Melton put on a black motorcycle helmet with a white sticker. The man then alleged that Melton attempted to “roll start” the motorcycle.
A probable cause statement says a witness told deputies he saw two men and a woman with a white van attempting to push start a motorcycle.
The probable cause statement says that approximately 13 minutes after the motorcycle owner called 911, a Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper stopped a van matching the witness’s description on U.S. Highway 65. Morgan was reportedly driving the van. Law enforcement agents found a helmet in the van that matched the motorcycle owner’s description, down to the sticker advertising the motorcycle shop. According to the probable cause statement, deputies recovered a silver revolver from the vehicle. The firearm was not loaded.
The probable cause statement says Hamilton told deputies he believed the motorcycle owner had stolen the Harley Davidson from Melton. Hamilton was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm because he has a prior felony conviction.
Melton, 21, of Springfield pleaded guilty to class A felony first-degree robbery and class D felony tampering with a motor vehicle. Melton received a suspended prison sentence and is currently serving five years of supervised probation.