A 50-year-old Jacksonville man whose first-degree murder trial ended in mistrial four months ago has been sentenced to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to a reduced charge for the beating death of his girlfriend.
Court records show James Anthony Dokes pleaded guilty to manslaughter Tuesday before Pulaski County Circuit Judge Leon Johnson. Manslaughter is a Class C felony that carries up to 30 years in prison for repeat offenders.
Dokes, whose convictions include drug manufacturing, burglary and theft, has been jailed since his arrest eight hours after Jacksonville police found the 45-year-old Vinolya Ann "Vino" Myers fatally injured in July 2020, a year Jacksonville had eight murders.
Myers, beaten so badly that her brain came loose, was found with Dokes' mother and brother, who had called an ambulance for her. Police said Dokes had called family members to the couple's Pike Avenue home to get help for her. Dokes had helped her into their car but the mother and brother told police they drove only a short distance before realizing how badly injured she was and called for help.
Dokes had to be tracked down to be arrested, with police tracing him through Myers' cellphone, which he had with him, prosecutors said.
Authorities said Dokes didn't call an ambulance for Myers or notify police, but instead spent time cleaning up the home where investigators found small blood spots in the living room, kitchen and bedroom of the residence, some of it on clothing, some on other items.
The murder case suffered a setback after the only witness to report seeing Dokes beating a woman on his front porch died before trial.
At his aborted trial, prosecutors said Dokes told conflicting stories about what had happened to Myers, first stating that she had drunkenly fallen off his front porch while denying that he had done anything to hurt her.
Told about what the neighbor had seen -- Dokes beating a woman bloody. then throwing her off his porch -- Dokes told investigators he did not remember what had happened.
Dokes' lawyers called Myers' death a tragic accident but the trial ended before they put on evidence. The defense called for a mistrial after a police officer testified that Dokes had a reputation for violence, testimony the lawyers said had unfairly made their client look bad before the jury, damaging his presumption of innocence and violating his right to a fair trial.
Dokes, who has twice served jail time in Missouri for domestic violence, was sentenced to 12 years in prison in July 1998 for misdemeanor criminal trespass and felony second-degree battery by a Pulaski County jury that acquitted him of the more serious charges of sexual abuse and residential burglary.
The charges were based on accusations that he'd forced his way into the Jacksonville home of a girlfriend, in July 1996, groping her and cutting her with a knife.