Stotts City woman strikes deal to avoid murder charge

Steve Chapman

Christina Knapp

A Stotts City woman who was implicated in the Sarah Pasco murder avoided a possible life sentence after striking a deal with prosecutors. According to online records, Christina Knapp, 39, pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery and first-degree kidnapping on Tuesday, Feb. 1; she was sentenced to 15 years on the robbery charge and 10 years on the kidnapping charge, with the sentences to be served consecutively. In return for her guilty plea, all other charges against Knapp were dismissed.

Defendant originally faced 9 felonies
Knapp was indicted by a Lawrence County grand jury on Sept. 23, 2020. She originally faced nine felony charges, including: one count of first-degree murder, one count of first-degree assault, one count of first-degree robbery, one count of first-degree kidnapping, four counts of armed criminal action and one count of illegal possession of a firearm. According to the criminal complaint against her, Knapp pleaded guilty to second-degree burglary and receiving stolen property in Vinita, Okla. in June of 2017 and therefore could not legally possesses or use a firearm.

One of many
Knapp’s plea deal and sentencing comes about a week after co-defendants Gary Hunter, Jr. and Dionna Parks made plea deals of their own, and two weeks after co-defendant Frank Sheridan was released on his own recognizance after agreeing to testify against the other eight defendants implicated in Pasco’s murder. Hunter, the actual gunman in the case, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and first-degree kidnapping and was sentenced to 40 years in prison. Parks made an Alford plea to the murder and kidnapping charges and was sentenced to 35 years in prison. As part of his deal, Sheridan pleaded guilty to kidnapping and received a suspended execution of a 15-year prison sentence and five years of supervised probation.

The killing
Pasco was murdered on Sunday, Aug. 16, 2020 after Hunter entered a vehicle belonging to another woman, who was known as the confidential victim, that she and the other woman were sitting in while parked at the Stotts City gazebo. He forced them to drive to Knapp’s residence at gunpoint. When they got there, Hunter told Knapp to get his rifle for him from his truck, which she did. Pasco and the other woman were forced to get out of the confidential victim’s vehicle and, at one point, were forced to dig grave holes on Knapp’s property. Hunter later forced them into the trunk of a car which was driven out to a well outside of Miller. There, he forced the two women to get into the well, where he shot them both.
Pasco was killed, the other  victim, though wounded, survived by playing dead until Hunter left. She was later able to crawl out of the well.
As of presstime, Knapp remained in custody at the Lawrence County Jail, pending her transfer to the Missouri Department of Corrections.
Five defendants still face charges in the murder of Pasco: Sierra Dunham, of Mt. Vernon; Lyle DeLong and Kimberly Henderson, both of Stotts City, Andrew Cypret, of Billings and Steven Calverley, of Republic.


Lawrence County Record

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


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