Defendant to stand trial in Joplin stabbing case

·2 min read

Jun. 6—A 38-year-old Joplin man was ordered to stand trial this week on an array of charges from arrests in April of this year and May of last year, including robbery and assault charges pertaining to a street stabbing.

Associate Judge Joe Hensley decided at the conclusion of a preliminary hearing Thursday in Jasper County Circuit Court that there was probable cause for Robbert W. Flemings to stand trial on counts of first-degree robbery, first-degree assault and armed-criminal action in connection with incident on May 27, 2020, outside the Watered Gardens ministry and shelter at 531 S. Kentucky Ave.

Joseph Stott testified at the hearing that he was fresh out of prison, homeless and staying at Watered Gardens on that date when Flemings approached him outside the shelter and demanded that he give him his cellphone. He kept refusing the demand and Flemings pulled a knife out, Stott said.

Stott said Flemings then stabbed him in the abdomen, which left him bleeding profusely. He called 911 for help and lay down to wait for the ambulance. He said a doctor at the hospital later told him that had the stab wound been about an inch and a half deeper, it would have severed his spleen and he most likely would have "bled out."

Stott was the lone witness called by Assistant Prosecutor Taylor Haas at the hearing. Under cross-examination by public defender Joseph Collier, Stott acknowledged that he got in a second altercation with another man before the ambulance arrived but described that as just a couple of punches being thrown.

He said that at some point during the incident, someone took one of two phones he had in his possession. But he acknowledged that he did not see who took the phone.

Following the hearing, Flemings waived a hearing on a second case from an arrest April 5 in Joplin and was ordered to stand trial on counts of driving while intoxicated, driving while revoked and unlawful possession of a firearm.

A convicted felon, Flemings purportedly had a handgun in the vehicle he was driving when he was pulled over by Joplin police for failure to use a turn signal and could not pass field sobriety tests, according to a probable-cause affidavit.

Jeff Lehr is a reporter for The Joplin Globe.