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Jensen Found Guilty, Jorgensen Sentenced In Death of Kenny Stout

On Friday afternoon, Nov. l, after more than five hours of deliberation, a Pulaski County jury found Nathan Jensen, age 28, of Ava, guilty of murder in the 2nd degree, armed criminal action and unlawful disposal of a corpse, for the beating and stabbing death of Kenny Stout, 17, Ava, in Dec. 2011.
Then on Tuesday, Christopher Jorgensen, a co-defendant who earlier pleaded guilty to 2nd-degree murder and armed criminal action in the case, was sentenced in Henry County where his trial was scheduled on a change of venue.
Jorgensen was given 20 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections by Henry County Circuit Judge James Journey.
Jorgensen, 31, of Ava, entered his guilty plea just before his jury trial was set to begin in Clinton. Jorgensen then became one of the state’s main witnesses in the murder case against Jensen.
The crimes carry a range of up to life imprisonment but parole is allowed after a defendant has served 85 percent of his sentence.
The state had originally sought a murder in the 1st degree conviction which would have carried a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
Jensen’s trial began on Monday morning, Oct. 28, in Waynesville due to a motion for a change of venue filed by the defendant. The state called 26 witnesses and produced 48 exhibits. The defense called one witness and produced four exhibits.
Douglas County Prosecuting Attorney Roger Wall said that in his 40 year career he has never heard more bone-chilling testimony than Jorgensen gave at Jensen’s trial.
Jorgensen testified for more than two hours concerning the details of Stout’s murder, Wall said.
The defendant did not take the stand in his own defense and the jury was instructed that this occurrence cannot be held against a defendant. Prosecuting Attorney Roger Wall explained that this is fairly common when a defendant has a prior felony conviction record which can only be brought to a jury’s attention when and if the defendant testifies. In this case, the fact that the defendant had three prior felony convictions and one misdemeanor conviction was not available to the jury.
At sentencing on Jan. 6, however, the sentencing judge will have that information on hand, as well as all previous arrests including those not leading to conviction.
Presiding over the Jensen trial was Circuit Judge Greg Warren of Waynesville. The state was represented by Wall. Jensen was represented by Attorneys Cynthia Black and John Adamik of Marshfield.
Prosecutor Wall said that it is a logistical nightmare to try a case of this magnitude 105 miles away from Ava, especially when the state has called two out-of-state witnesses. One was a DNA criminalist now employed in Johnson County, Kan. The other was Dr. Carl Stacy, an instructor at University of Missouri Medical School and a nationally recognized forensic pathologist. The original medical examiner, who performed the autopsy of the victim, was Dr. James Anderson of Springfield. Unfortunately, Dr. Anderson died unexpectedly of a heart attack in 2012.
Wall said besides giving thanks and kudos to the two expert witnesses who basically donated their time to Douglas County because of the county’s severe budget restrictions, the prosecutor wanted to thank the two independent witnesses who testified so far away from home, and also the Missouri State Highway Patrol, including the Division of Drug and Crime Control, the Wright County Sheriff’s Department, the Texas County Sheriff’s Department and especially officers from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department who, besides testifying, produced the voluminous evidence needed in this case and who daily transferred witnesses and the co-defendant, who also testified for the state.
Wall said he always tells the jury panel that he is “nothing without his girls (his staff).” It always gets a laugh, but he is sincere when he reminds the jurors in closing arguments of that fact again.
“Without the team effort of Christy Overcast, chief legal assistant in the office, and our victim/witness advocate Nicole Palmer, our office would not have near the success rate of convictions that we have,” Wall said.
He also commended Martha Esterline and Christina Freeman for holding the office down while other staff were in Waynesville for the entire week.
After his initial arrest, Jorgensen “lawyered up”, Wall said, and refused to talk to the police. There was no DNA or other forensic evidence which tied Jorgensen to the murder, other than a statement from the co-defendant, Jensen.
At Jensen’s trial, Jorgensen testified that a few days after Stout’s murder, at a farm in Texas County, he attempted to murder Jensen, but the pistol misfired when placed against Jensen’s temple.
Both Jorgensen and Jensen are classified as prior and persistent felony offenders, but Wall said that information is never released to a jury unless and until the defendant testifies in his own defense.
Jensen is set for sentencing on Jan. 6, 2014, in Waynesville, after guilty jury verdicts were returned against him for all three counts.
Wall thanked the Stout and McFarlin families for their faith in the justice system and again thanked all the law enforcement agencies who participated in the investigation, including those mentioned earlier, plus the MSHP Dive Team, and the Douglas County Coroner.
Jorgensen was represented by Springfield attorney Stuart Huffman.