Man fought with officers after severe assault in Wright County

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HARTVILLE, Mo. - A man from Wright County just didn’t want to go to jail. Law enforcement officers said Robert Rice fought with them nearly every step of the way after he knocked another man unconscious on Monday.

Rice, 39, is accused of assaulting three men, including a sheriff’s deputy and a jailer. A Wright County sheriff’s deputy gave this account in a probable cause statement about what led up to Rice’s arrest:

The deputy was dispatched to a home in which Rice had assaulted Roy Liles, who was unconscious. Rice approached the deputy and “was yelling to get Roy some help.” The deputy smelled intoxicants on Rice’s breath and clothing.

The deputy told Rice to turn around and put his hands behind his back so he could be handcuffed.

"You are not arresting me," Rice said.

Rice tried to walk away from the deputy. The deputy put his arm around Rice’s neck and pulled him back. Rice struggled to get away but the deputy tightened his grip and finally got handcuffs on him.

The deputy then tried to attend to Liles, who was bleeding and unconscious. The deputy also asked a dispatcher to send an ambulance.

The deputy said Rice would not remain seated and kept approaching him, finally head butting the deputy, who grabbed him and threw him to the ground before returning to Liles.

“Rice was yelling at Liles that he better not press charges or he would be sorry. Rice yelled that at Liles numerous times while Liles was still unconscious. Rice got to his feet again and started toward me. I told him to sit down and he continued toward me. I got up again and went to Rice and told him to sit down, Rice pushed against me with his chest and tried to head butt me again. I grabbed Rice and threw him to the ground a second time. This time he remained on the ground but continued to yell at Liles that he better not press charges,” the deputy wrote in the probable cause statement.

The ambulance and Sheriff Glenn Adler arrived and the emergency medical responders took care of Liles, who was taken to a hospital in Springfield, where doctors found two brain bleeds.

The sheriff and the deputy took Rice to a patrol vehicle but Rice resisted by trying to fall down and pull away. In the vehicle on the way to jail, he flailed around and tried to break equipment. At the jail, he remained combative.

When a jailer tried to remove leg irons, Rice tried to head butt the jailer. The sheriff had to grab him by the neck so the jailer could remove the irons.

At the door to his jail cell, when the deputy tried to remove his handcuffs, Rice “did a back kick” and hit the deputy in the left leg. The deputy grabbed Rice around the neck and the jailer finished taking the handcuffs off and put him in a holding cell.

Witnesses told deputies that the assault on Liles occurred because Rice wanted a ride to Mountain Grove and became violent when the witnesses said they couldn’t take him. One woman said Rice shoved her into a door and then the ground. Another woman said Rice threatened them and then Rice attacked Liles when Liles told him that was enough.

“They said that Robert ran at Roy and shoved him against the vehicle. They said Roy hit Robert over the head with his cane to defend himself. They said that Robert picked up Roy and slammed him on to the concrete slab and grabbed his hair and was slamming his head on to the concrete,” the women told deputies.

The women said Rice kicked Liles in the head numerous times and kicked him all over the body. He then wouldn’t let the women get close to Liles to check on him.

Rice is in jail in lieu of a $100,000 bond. He’s charged with one count of first-degree assault, two counts of second-degree assault, and one count of resisting arrest. He could go to prison for several years if he’s arrested.

Wright County prosecutors called Rice a prior and persistent offender, which could increase the length of his sentence. They said he pleaded guilty in 1998 for unlawful use of a weapon in Dunklin County, and pleaded guilty in 2006 for two counts of second-degree assault of a law enforcement officer in Wright County.