Cape traffic stop results in man’s 4th DWI, second serious assault charge

A Charleston, Mo., man is facing the possibility of a lengthy prison sentence — again — after he was arrested in Cape Girardeau County this week on drunken driving and assault charges that are starkly similar to those that put him behind bars in 2004.

James E. Stinnett, 36, was arrested Sunday by the Missouri State Highway Patrol when a trooper noticed him driving erratically, a stop that resulted in Stinnett getting several charges, including a count of first-degree assault from an incident last October when prosecutors say he pointed a loaded rifle at a man at a convenience store parking lot in East Prairie, Mo.

Additional counts that stem from the traffic stop on Sunday include:

  • DWI, which tallies at least four for Stinnett, elevating the charge to aggravated and bringing the possibility of stiffer penalties;
  •  possesing a firearm and ammunition, illegal for Stinnett, a convicted felon;
  • and three other traffic offenses —  driving on a revoked license, failing to register his vehicle; and not having insurance.

Stinnett was being held on a $100,000 bond at the Cape Girardeau County Jail. A review of online documents show court dates have yet to be set in Stinnett’s cases and listed no defense lawyer.

Mississippi County prosecutor Darren Cann knows Stinnett’s case well — both of these. Cann will try to convict Stinnett for the Mississippi County assault charge, a felony that carries a possible pounishment of up to 15 years.

In that case, Stinnett allegedly pointed a loaded rifle at a man during the early-morning hours of Oct. 27 during an altercation.That was a “substantial step,” Cann said, in trying to seriously injure or kill the man Stinnett was fighting with.

But Cann was also the one who, as an assistant prosecutor in Scott County in 2004,  worked to put Stinnett away. Stinnett was charged with DWI and second-degree assault after he fired a weapon into his home while fighting with his wife, but the bullet hit another who was inside the home at the time, Cann said.

Stinnett acknowledged his guilt in a plea agreement with prosecutors that  year in exchange for a reduced charge and was sentenced to seven years for the assault and four years for the DWI, sentences that Judge David Dolan set to run concurrently.

Cann could offer no explanation on Wednesday as to why Stinnett’s warrant took a year to reach him. But he did say he would not be surprised if the feds picked up the case considering the weapon involved.

“If they do that, it would be a minimum of 10 calendar years that he’d have to do,” Cann said.

Accused ‘potty peeper’ to be arraigned Monday

The 52-year-old man charged with secretly recording women as they used the bathroom is expected back in court on Monday as questions linger about why he was not in prison at the time of his arrest.

Frank F. Fuchs of Cedar Hills, Mo., faces up to four years in prison if convicted of a single count of invasion of privacy for allegedly making the videos in August at the Silver Springs Office Complex at 351 S. Silver Springs Road.

Fuchs is set to be arraigned at 2:30 p.m. Monday in front of Judge William Syler. Fuchs is represented by the public defender’s office and remains incarcerated at the Cape Girardeau County Jail on a $50,000 cash-only bond.


Frank F. Fuchs

If Fuchs were to make bond, the court has mandated a special condition that he may not possess any cameras or other recording devices, including cell phones.

Fuchs has pleaded guilty to this charge once before. In 2012, he was arrested after store employees at a grocery store near St. Louis, Mo., detained him after it was brought to their attention that he had been recording women in the bathroom there.

One question that may be answered at Monday’s arraignment is why was Fuchs a free man at all at the time of his arrest. Fuchs, who was called the “potty peeper” by one St. Louis-area television station in 2012, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to four years in prison on that charge, but was released after serving just 15 days.

No explanation has been publicly offered as to why Fuchs obtained an early release.

In his Cape Girardeau case, court filings say that police responded to the office complex  on Aug. 5 after receiving a call that someone was inside a woman’s restroom with a recording device. The charging documents say that Fuchs was detained by soldiers from the U.S. Army recruiting office in the building.

A female soldier had been using the restroom, police say, when she noticed a silver object underneath a stall wall.

Two officers confronted Fuchs, the statement said, when he left the woman’s restroom and asked him why he had been inside. The suspect said the men’s room had been full, but admitted when asked that he did have a video camera.

A video was found on Fuchs that contained several clips of females using the restroom at the office building, the filings say.

Attached is a clip from a newscast outlining Fuch’s allegations in Jefferson County last year: