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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Man charged with murder over alleged property dispute

  • A Cuba man has been charged with second-degree murder after allegedly shooting another man over a private property argument on the Meramec River in Crawford County Saturday.
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  • A Cuba man has been charged with second-degree murder after allegedly shooting another man over a private property argument on the Meramec River in Crawford County Saturday.
    According to a news release from Crawford County Sheriff Randy E. Martin, the fatal shooting victim has been identified as Paul Dart Jr., 48, of the Franklin County area.
    The alleged shooter has been identified as James R. Crocker, 59, of Steelville, who has been charged with murder in the second degree, a class A felony.
    Crocker was arrested and placed in the Crawford County Jail in lieu of a $650,000 cash-only bond.
    Crawford County sheriff’s deputies, Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers and state conservation agents were dispatched to the scene of the shooting located west of Steelville.
    A woman who lives near the Meramec River at the end of Highway T near Meramec Estate Lane stated a man later identified as Crocker asked her to call 911 because he had just shot someone on the river, the sheriff wrote in the news release.
    When law enforcement officials arrived at the scene, they located several people on the gravel bar next to the river, who led officers to Dart.
    The sheriff wrote that Dart was lying on the ground, bleeding from an apparent gunshot wound to the head.
    While officers began giving aid to Dart, numerous witnesses at the scene told law enforcement officers that an alleged argument ensued between the two men about whether one of the men, Dart, was standing on private or public property, Martin said.
    Witnesses stated that the argument escalated and at one point, one of the men allegedly pulled a gun and fired several shots, striking the other man in the head.
    During an interview with a Crawford County sheriff’s deputy, Crocker said he went to the gravel bar and saw a man urinating on the gravel bar, according to court records.
    Crocker said he told the man he was on Crocker’s property and that the man needed to leave, according to the probable cause statement filed in circuit court, and Crocker said the man refused to leave and the man told Crocker that the gravel bar was public property.
    Court records state that Crocker was approached by four subjects, one of whom had rocks in his hands. Crocker told the sheriff’s deputy he fired two shots into the gravel and then shot at “the one closest to me” who was identified as Dart. Dart was not the subject who had rocks in his hands, according to court records.
    Dart was transported to Huston Funeral Home in Steelville, where he was pronounced dead by Crawford County Coroner Paul Hutson.

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