Judge says no to domestic assault defendant’s requested release for baby’s upcoming birth
Zack L. Burris, 21, pleaded guilty to second-degree domestic assault before Circuit Judge Craig Carter Nov. 6. The charge was amended by Ozark County Prosecuting Attorney John Garrabrant to second-degree domestic assault from the originally filed first-degree domestic assault.
The plea was made as an “open plea,” meaning it was not part of a plea agreement. Garrabrant dismissed a second charge of armed criminal action and told the judge he agreed to cap his recommended sentence at no more than seven years in prison.
Burris’ public defender, Lauren Kate Welborn, requested a sentencing assessment report, a report prepared by the Missouri Department of Probation and Parole that provides the court with information that helps lead the judge to sentencing the defendant appropriately.
Welborn told Carter the defense was planning to argue for Burris to be admitted to a 120-day institutional treatment program within the Missouri Department of Corrections.
A sentencing hearing is set before Carter for Jan. 8, 2020.
After the plea was accepted by the court and the sentencing hearing scheduled, Welborn asked Carter to consider a bond in the case.
“He’s spent over 100 days in jail at this point, and there’s actually never been a bond set in this case,” Welborn said.
Welborn told the judge that the victim in the case, Burris’ girlfriend and the pregnant mother of his unborn child, was in the courtroom and wanted to ask that Burris be released to witness the birth of their child, scheduled by c-section later this month.
Welborn said the defense hoped to argue for Burris to be released with a home plan to live at his grandparents’ home on supervised probation with GPS monitoring.
“I know the victim is in favor of release, but the state is going to object to any release,” Garrabrant told Carter. “Mr. Burris has had an ongoing meth addiction since he was 13 years old, and he’s had no treatment for it up to this point. He may be OK when he’s not on drugs, but this is what he does when he’s on methamphetamine.”
Garrabrant held up photos of the victim’s face, bruised and swollen, that were reportedly taken after the alleged assault in August.
“I’m going to overrule bond release in this case. I don’t have enough confidence that Mr. Burris isn’t going to screw this up,” Carter said, indicating that Burris might potentially violate terms of probation if released before the sentencing hearing. “And this case involves a pregnant mother-to-be. It’s a fragile situation.”
Burris was remanded back to the custody of the Ozark County Jail, where he will remain until his sentencing hearing in January.
The allegations of assault
According to the probable cause statement in the case, Ozark County Sheriff’s Deputy Cpl. Curtis Dobbs arrived at a residence on Runway Loop in Gainesville on Aug. 2, and discovered a woman with severe lacerations and contusions on her face.
Medical personnel were dispatched to the scene, and the woman was transported by ambulance to Baxter Regional Medical Center in Mountain Home, Arkansas, for treatment.
Before being transported, the woman told officers Burris had assaulted her at her home on Runway Loop. However, she didn’t know where he was at that time.
Deputies were escorted to the victim’s apartment by a family member. According to the probable cause statement, officers discovered several broken and jagged pieces of what appeared to be porcelain. They also reported blood in several areas between a mattress and the front door of the apartment.
Dobbs said he was familiar with the suspect and located him at another residence in the mobile home park. Burris was arrested on suspicion of assault.
When Dobbs interviewed him Aug. 3, Burris allegedly admitted striking the victim in the face with a coffee mug. Dobbs reported several small lacerations to Burris’ right hand and forearm. Burris indicated the injuries were sustained during the alleged assault.
During an interview with the victim, she said she had been in a romantic relationship with Burris and was pregnant with his child. She said she was resting in her apartment when Burris came in and lay on the bed next to her. The victim said when she refused his sexual overtures, Burris became angry and went into the kitchen.
She said she opened her eyes and then was struck with something. She said she found herself halfway off the bed and got up and made her way to the front door and then fled to a neighboring residence for help.
The victim sustained a 3-inch gash to her face that required 13 stitches. She also had scratches on the cornea of her eye, a fractured nose with a small portion of her nose missing, a large, swollen discolored area on her forehead, and a concussion leading to bleeding in her brain cavity, according to the records.