AURORA, Mo. – First-degree murder charges against a Lawrence County man in connection with a 1988 homicide have been dismissed, according to the man’s attorney and the Lawrence County prosecutor.

Lawrence Timmons was charged in the death of Cynthia Smith, last seen leaving a bar in Mount Vernon in late July of 1988. Her body was found in a rural Pierce City cemetery 10 days later.

Timmons’ defense attorney Adam Woody said in a news release Wednesday that the state had voluntarily elected to dismiss the case filed in 2019 after the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office was contacted by a private investigation firm with new information.

Lawrence County Prosecutor Don Trotter confirmed the motion to dismiss, saying that his office has chosen to halt the prosecution because witnesses had died and new legislation that changes prerequisites for first-degree murder charges made prosecution untenable.

Court documents indicate Smith had left the Checkers bar in Mount Vernon on July 28, 1988, with an unidentified man and was not seen again. She left her children with a babysitter who reported her missing when she did not return home to her children then ages 4 and 8.

At the time of his grand jury indictment in 2019, Timmons was in Lawrence County Jail on unrelated charges. Trotter said his office will continue to pursue a separate case with multiple counts of unlawful possession of a firearm against Timmons.

A trial on those charges had been set for January 2022, but has been canceled. Trotter said it will go forward, along with a third case of forgery against Timmons, who remains in custody in the Lawrence County Jail, according to online jail roster records.