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Child molester already serving 300 years pleads guilty, avoids another trial | #childpredator | #kidsaftey | #childsaftey

James Norman Harper, who once lived in Springfield but has been in prison in Licking, entered a negotiated plea of guilty to three different sex crimes involving a girl who was 6 years old.

Harper was sentenced to 50 years in prison.

In 2021, Harper was convicted in a Christian County case and sentenced to 300 years in prison. According to court documents, the two victims — one in Greene County and one in Christian County — are related. One victim was 5 and one was 6 at the time.

Harper stood before Greene County Circuit Judge Kaiti Greenwade Wednesday morning and pleaded guilty to statutory rape in the first degree, for which he was sentenced to 20 years in prison; statutory sodomy or attempted sodomy, for which he was sentenced to 20 years; and child molestation in the first degree, for which he was sentenced to 10 years.

He is to serve those three sentences consecutively, meaning one after the other.

But they are to be served concurrently with the 300-year sentence, meaning the 300-year sentence has not been lengthened.

Harper tentatively had been scheduled to go on trial on Monday, June 10, in Springfield.

Harper was charged in Greene County in 2019, the same year he was charged with the similar crime in Christian County.

A forensic interview was done of the Greene County victim at the Child Advocacy Center in Springfield on Oct. 10, 2019. The girl reported to the interviewer where she was touched and how she was assaulted, according to court documents.

Shawn Kelly Martin (Photo from the Missouri Department of Corrections)

There was another defendant in the Greene County case. Shawn Kelly Martin, 45, was convicted by a jury of first-degree statutory rape and four counts of statutory sodomy and sentenced to life in prison in 2022.

According to court documents, Martin and Harper were once cellmates. Upon their releases from jail, according to Martin, they shared sexual access to the same young girl in Greene County.

The two men have a history of sex crimes with children and were on the Missouri State Highway Patrol Sex Offender Registry long before 2019.

According to the registry, Harper was convicted of child molestation in the first degree in Ozark in 1998. He was 17 and his victim was 5.

According to the registry, Martin was convicted of statutory rape in the second degree in 2002 in Crane. He was 23 at the time and his victim was 13.

Jackie Rehwald

Jackie Rehwald is a reporter at the Springfield Daily Citizen. She covers public safety, the courts, homelessness, domestic violence and other social issues. Her office line is 417-837-3659. More by Jackie Rehwald

Steve Pokin

Steve Pokin writes the Pokin Around and The Answer Man columns for the Springfield Daily Citizen. He also writes about criminal justice issues. He can be reached at [email protected]. His office line is 417-837-3661. More by Steve Pokin

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