A Rolla man who was accused of strangling his mother to death last year pleaded guilty in court last week and was sentenced to 30 years in jail.
On Thursday, June 6, Daniel C. Cross, 23, pleaded guilty to murder in the second degree, a Class A felony, in the strangulation death of his mother, Chong Cross. He was sentenced to life (30 years) in prison by Senior Circuit Judge John D. Wiggins.
Phelps County Prosecuting Attorney John Beger, who represented the state of Missouri in the prosecution, stated that under Missouri's "85 percent rule," Cross would not be eligible for parole for at least 25 years.
The rule requires someone convicted of a dangerous felony to serve a minimum of 85 percent of their sentence.
Rolla police officers arrested Daniel Cross on the evening of Aug. 20, 2012, after being asked to check on the well-being of Chong Cross, who did not show up to work at Phelps County Regional Medical Center.
A co-worker went to her home located on Forum Drive in Rolla and spoke with Daniel Cross, who initially said his mother had gone to work. However, when it was pointed out that her car was still in the driveway, he said she had gone to St. Louis. Daniel Cross then closed the door and would not answer it again.
When Rolla Police Department officers went to the home, at first Daniel Cross did not answer the door but when he finally did, he told the officers his mother was in St. Louis with a friend.
The officers became suspicious when he could not say who she was with and he refused permission to check the residence for her well-being.
Because of their concern about her, officers entered the home without a warrant and found her body in a bathtub. It was later determined she had been strangled by her son because of a dispute over money and his use of drugs.
Chong Cross had already been dead about a day before the officers were called, Beger said.
Beger commended the RPD officers for their hard work.
"The officers responded timely," said Beger, "and given the exigent circumstances with which they were confronted, made the correct decision to enter the home without a warrant or the permission of Mr. Cross."
Wiggins had earlier ruled that the officers' entry into the home without a warrant was justified because of the emergency situation.
According to Missouri case.net, Daniel Cross was set to stand trial beginning July 8, but the hearing was canceled after a plea agreement was reached after consultation with the victim's family.
Beger said as a part of the agreement, the defendant had to waive or give up any rights to appeal or challenge the legality of his conviction.