Tim Prosser Isn't a Killer or a Dealer. So Why Is He Serving a Life Sentence— With No Chance of Parole?

Tim Prosser is doing a no parole life sentence for drug trafficking — the one such inmate in all of Missouri.
Tim Prosser is doing a no parole life sentence for drug trafficking — the one such inmate in all of Missouri. PHOTO BY DANNY WICENTOWSKI

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click to enlarge A photo of Tim Prosser in his early 20s. Now 53, Tim will die in prison — unless the governor steps in. - COURTESY OF THE PROSSER FAMILY
COURTESY OF THE PROSSER FAMILY
A photo of Tim Prosser in his early 20s. Now 53, Tim will die in prison — unless the governor steps in.

Ste. Genevieve County ProsecutingAttorney Carl Kinsky had little trouble convincing two separate juries of Tim's guilt. The first trial, held in March 2004, ended with a guilty verdict on felony charges of drug possession and unlawful use of paraphernalia. That jury gave Tim the toughest possible sentence, eleven years.

The trial for Tim's second set of charges, held eight months later, played out like an encore performance. In hindsight, Tim should never have taken his second case to trial. Kinsky presented essentially the same arguments he'd used to persuade the previous jury, parading lab evidence and photos of Tim's meth lab and calling on drug task force members to describe the extent of the backwoods Walter White's operation.

In both raids, confidential informants had been sent to Tim's trailer with a box of pseudoephedrine pills, the key ingredient required to transform otherwise legal items (camp fuel, acetone, matchbooks, antifreeze) into homemade meth. The informants' sworn statements were entered into evidence, describing how Tim accepted the pills in exchange for a future batch of the finished product.

There was also a mountain of lab-tested evidence pulled from the trailer, including numerous dishes and jars that tested positive for meth and pseudoephedrine. During the first raid, police discovered a baggie of white powder (testing positive for meth) and an actual pipe with meth residue.

Tim did little to aid his own defense. He was more like his own worst enemy.

His worst blunder came two weeks after the December 2003 arrest. Tim foolishly placed a phone call from the county jail to the seventeen-year-old girl who had been present during the raid.

In the phone call, Tim boasted that he'd known the bust was coming, but hadn't had the opportunity to "get to my guns" before the police swooped in. He advised the teen not to plead guilty because "they can't charge you for what was in my house."

Throughout the call, Tim begged her to write him letters. He called her "baby" and told her that he still loved her. He promised that he would send her money to buy "a bag of happiness."

Like all communications going in and out of the county jail, the phone call was recorded. Kinsky played the recording for the jury.

"We're not talking about a defendant who cooks the methamphetamine, and that's it," Kinsky said during his closing argument. The two rifles, two pistols and shotgun police recovered from Tim's trailer were legally owned, but Kinsky pointed to the recorded phone call as proof Tim wasn't an otherwise peaceable fellow who just happened to be cooking meth.

In a recorded jailhouse interview the day after the raid, the seventeen-year-old girl (who was ultimately not charged with any crime and released) insisted that she and Tim had never been "boyfriend and girlfriend." Still, Kinsky impressed upon the jury that Tim had, at the very least, chosen to corrupt a person who wasn't even old enough to buy cigarettes.

"You're going to send a message, whatever your verdict is. I hope that message is: Not in our county," Kinsky told the jury. "I don't think the facts in this case tilt toward the side of leniency."

It took the jury less than twenty minutes to reach a guilty verdict. Given the option of ten to thirty years, or life in prison, the jury chose life.

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