St. Joseph man pleads guilty, sentenced in murder of his 10-year-old stepson

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SAVANNAH, Mo. — A St. Joseph man has pleaded guilty and has been sentenced in connection to the murder of his 10-year-old stepson.

Officials from Andrew County tell FOX4 that Donald Tipton entered a guilty plea on Monday to second-degree murder in the death of Gage Belding. 

Prosecutors dropped all other charges, and Tipton was sentenced to 25 years in prison. He must serve 85% of that time before he’s eligible for parole.

Andrew County Sheriff Grant Gillett said on Nov. 30, 2020, they were called to a home in St. Joseph through a 911 call of a boy who was not responsive. He was taken to Mosaic Medical Center where he died. 

Through an investigation, the department was able to uncover a history of abuse to the child by his stepfather. 

According to court documents, the first incident was on Oct. 31, where Tipton is accused of putting a sock and the barrel of a gun in Belding’s mouth. On Nov. 25, they allege he punched Belding in the chest causing serious injury. Finally, on Nov. 30, the prosecuting attorney accuses Belding of striking and strangling the boy which resulted in his death.

A warrant was issued for Tipton on Feb. 16. The department said he turned himself in the next day.

Andrew County Prosecuting Attorney Steve Stevenson filed a motion to have the probable cause statements in this case sealed. Stevenson said the documents contain the names and witness statements of several children and releasing the documents would be detrimental to them.

Natalie Julien, the president & CEO, CASA of Johnson & Wyandotte County said children need advocates more now than ever whether they are navigating the court system or simply seem to be going through a hard time.

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