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Father of wrongly convicted man disgusted by plea agreement and immunity offered to two men

STONE COUNTY, Mo. - The father of a man wrongly convicted of first degree murder is disgusted by the plea agreement and immunity given to two men connected to the crime. The Stone County prosecutor offered immunity to John C. Mills to testify against Timothy Seaman for the 2006 death of David Dulin.

In 2010, Mills was involved in a six-hour standoff with Stone County deputies during which at least one shot was fired. Mills recently pleaded guilty to the crime. While in jail for charges related to the standoff, he was offered immunity for the murder of Dulin.

Zack Stewart spent nearly four years behind bars the shooting of Dulin. Several months after a unanimous Missouri Supreme Court ruling that Stewart deserved a new trial; the charges against Stewart were dismissed. "I don't know if it will ever be cleared,” Stewart told KSPR News about clearing his name. “You can't clear the internet." While Stewart struggled to move forward, his family closely watched the criminal charges filed against two men suspected of killing Dulin. Mills wasn't charged. “The dockets that I read, he was given total immunity for his testimony against Tim Seaman,” local freelance reporter Melanie Flood said. “Mills told officers they went out there to rob Dulin and kill him and that Mills actually pulled the trigger first, there was a scuffle and Seaman picked up the gun from the floor and shot him.”

During sentencing for the unrelated standoff, many of Dulin's family members attended the hearing knowing he would not be charged with murder. “What could have been 23 years had dropped to 10 years because of the agreement,” Flood said. “The Dulin family members, one of the family members, walked out of the courtroom and started crying.”

Stone County Prosecutor Matt Selby declined an interview about the Mill’s case. Selby said until Seaman is sentenced it would be unethical to comment about a potential witness in a pending case. Selby sent this emailed statement:

“Early on in John Mills' case I had made on offer trying to settle the case. After I made the immunity agreement with him and he agreed to testify in Seaman's case, I felt like it created a conflict of interest for me to be trying to prosecute him and use him as a witness at the same time.  Therefore, I got out of the case.  He had not accepted the plea offer I made so the special prosecutor, Robert George from Aurora, could have done anything that he wanted to on the case.  In fact, I would assume that my offer was withdrawn because the case had been set for trial.  If you want to know about how they arrived at the final result, you would have to talk to Mr. George because once I was out of the case I did not have any further involvement.”

KSPR News tried to contact George, but as of news time had not received a response. Flood says the special prosecutor told the judge the plea agreement was made before he took over the case. Flood says the judge appeared disgusted by the agreement. “That's the first time I had ever seen a judge come right out and say to a defendant, ‘you are a dangerous and mean person, and you need to be totally removed from the public forever.' He wanted to throw the book at him and he couldn't.”

Stewart’s father -- who fought for years to see his son’s name cleared -- agrees. “I'm visibly and verbally disgusted,” Steve Stewart said. “I think a person finally gets past the anger stage and, like the judge said, becomes disgusted.”

Stewart says he does not believe justice has been served. “To me immunity for a murder is not a sentence,” Stewart said. “An innocent person gets life without parole but the two people that actually did it get a total of 21 ½ years for the same crime.”

According to Flood the judge took issue with the agreement, because Mills scored poorly on a risk assessment. The assessment scores offenders on a scale of zero to 10. High risk offenders score zero but Mills scored a negative four.

On May 11, Seaman is scheduled to be sentenced to 21 ½ years in prison for the murder of Dulin. According to Missouri Supreme Court documents, a bloody hat found at the crime scene had DNA that matched Seaman's DNA. He was also later linked to the murder weapon.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun