OZARK, Mo. – An Ozark man accused of killing his wife and setting their house on fire pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and a long list of other charges Thursday and was sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years.
Aaron Clemmons, 34, was scheduled for a motions hearing Thursday, but during the proceedings, he entered a change of plea and was sentenced by Circuit Judge Timothy Perigo, according to online court records.
Prosecutors had earlier announced their intention to seek the death penalty in the case.
The life sentence (30 years) is to be served consecutively with two 15-year sentences for two counts of child endangerment and concurrently with sentences for two charges of armed criminal action (10 years each), kidnapping (30 years) and arson (10 years).
Clemmons pleaded guilty in the death of his wife, Bailey Clemons, whose body was found in her burned-out home on 1205 E. McCracken, east of Ozark. Investigators initially thought no one was home at the time of the fire. But a follow-up investigation led deputies back to the house the next day, where her body was discovered.
According to a probable cause statement in the case – a state Fire Marshal investigator found two melted gasoline containers near where the body was found in the basement of the house.
The statement says Aaron Clemons called 911 on Monday, the day of the fire, saying he had been in the fire. He was taken to a Springfield hospital for treatment of injuries not specified in the documents. Investigators say Clemons allegedly said things to the hospital staff indicating he was involved in his wife’s death and that he set the fire to cover it up.
When investigators questioned Clemons at the hospital, he allegedly told them his children were at a campground in Stone County and that he had tied his wife to a pole in the basement of the house on McCracken and set the fire.
The Clemons’ two children, ages six and nine, were found in Stone County and provided investigators with details of what they witnessed.