Murder charges dropped against 'persistent and prior' offender Timmons

Steve Chapman

Lawrence Timmons

Pierce City’s Timmons, linked to 1988 murder case, still faces prosecution on weapons charges, forgery
In September of 2019, Lawrence Timmons, of Pierce City, was charged with first-degree murder in the 1988 killing of Cynthia Smith. Those charges are now dismissed.
Don Trotter, Lawrence County prosecuting attorney, said a new state statute excluded testimony from Timmons ex-wife in Oklahoma, which he was hoping to use. Under the new law, Trotter said, testimony from a person who has been murdered can only be used against a defendant in a trial if the defendant killed the person to keep them from testifying. Before the law was passed, testimony from a murder victim could be used against the defendant, regardless of their reasons for committing the murder.
“The statute has a clause in it … that says it’s not enough that you just kill them; you actually have to kill for the purpose of not letting them testify,” Trotter said. “That’s clearly not what happened here. Mr. Timmons killed (her) the best we can tell … because he likes killing people. There was a rape charge against him for her, he may have killed her for that reason. But all that’s in Oklahoma; it wasn’t for us.”
Additionally, Trotter said, two witnesses recently died, and without their testimony, the murder case against Timmons just could not go forward.
“It’s a 33-year-old case,” he said. “There’s missing evidence already when we started, so we needed everything that we had. We needed it all, and we just … kept losing (evidence). So, we just did not have enough to go forward.”
However, Trotter said, he still plans to prosecute Timmons on one count of forgery and six counts of use of a weapon by a felon. The forgery charge stems from when Timmons allegedly lied on a job application about his past criminal background to get a job. As for the weapons charges, Trotter said Timmons was a part of the American Legion Honor Guard and allegedly fired rifles as part of their funeral services.
Trotter acknowledged the use of firearms charges were unusual.
“I probably wouldn’t have filed it for anybody else, except this man has been killing people,” he said.
Each of the seven charges carries a maximum sentence of 10-years in prison. Trotter said if Timmons, now 68, is found guilty, he will ask for the maximum sentence on each count.
“At his age, it will be enough to keep him in prison for the rest of his life,” Trotter said.
Timmons is charged as a “persistent and prior” offender; he was found guilty of first-degree robbery in Greene County on Dec. 15, 1977. The following year, he was convicted of attempted kidnapping in a 1976 case where he attempted to drown an 11-year-boy in the basement of his (Timmons) house. Timmons served three years in prison in that case.
The murder of Cynthia Smith was the subject of the Cold Case documentary “Small Town Predator,” which aired on March 21, 2020.



Lawrence County Record

312 S. Hickory St.
Mt. Vernon, MO, 65712


Please Login for Premium Content