CRAWFORD COUNTY, Mo. – What was described as a dispute over private versus public property turned deadly on July 20th. Authorities have charged James R. Crocker, 59, with second-degree murder in the death of Paul Dart Jr., 48, according to a press release from the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office.
Affiliate KTVI reported that Dart was part of a 50-person float trip when they stopped near Crocker’s property. The release said that officers were dispatched to the area after Crocker had gone to a neighbor’s home and asked her to call police because he had shot someone on the river. When police arrived they found Dart bleeding from the head on a gravel bar next to the river. He was transported to Hutson’s Funeral Home in Steelville, Mo and pronounced deceased by the Crawford County Coroner.
Witnesses on the scene described that an argument had taken place between Crocker and a group of men as to whether or not one of them was standing on Crocker’s property. They said that the argument escalated to a point where Crocker pulled out a gun and fired several shots, with one fatally striking Dart in the head.
According to KTVI, Crocker told police that he observed Dart urinating on the gravel bar, which was the property in dispute. He also told police that he had to defend his property. He is now being held on a $650,000 cash bond and is set to appear in court on August 16th according to court records.