MORGAN COUNTY, Mo.- Following months of court appearances, the MSHP trooper facing manslaughter in the death of Brandon Ellingson, 20, at the Lake of the Ozarks, has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and the case will not enter trial.
Anthony Piercy was charged in 2015 in the death of Ellingson, an Arizona State University student from suburban Des Moines, Ia. The 20-year-old went into the water in 2014 as Piercy was transporting him from the Lake of the Ozarks on suspicion of boating while intoxicated. Witnesses have said that Ellingson was wearing an improperly secured life jacket that slipped off.
A hearing was held this afternoon in which Piercy appeared alongside his attorney and entered a plea to amended information of charges as discussed with the Special Prosecutor. Piercy will face sentencing for misdemeanor negligent operation of a vessel.
There is no mandatory minimum sentence for a Class B misdemeanor in Missouri, and the maximum punishment is six months in prison and/or a $500 fine. Piercy could be sentenced to up to two years probation without any prison time, a far less punishment than the original felony charge.
Sentencing will take place September 8, 2017, at 3:00 p.m., in Morgan County Circuit Court.