A Missouri man was sentenced in federal court for illegally possessing firearms after leading law enforcement officers on a high-speed chase from Bolivar, Mo., to Springfield, Mo.
Milton W. Sparks, 38, of Aurora, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge M. Douglas Harpool to 15 years in federal prison without parole.
On April 15, 2021, Sparks pleaded guilty to two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Sparks admitted that he was in possession of a Ruger 9mm handgun on Dec. 20, 2017. Law enforcement officers attempted to stop Sparks, who was driving a stolen Dodge Challenger. Sparks fled from officers at speeds up to 128 miles per hour. At one point, Sparks changed into the right lane of Highway 13 and cut off a dump truck. The right rear tire of the Charger exploded, but Sparks continued driving at about 100 miles per hour. Sparks fled from Bolivar, Mo., to a residential neighborhood in Springfield, Mo., despite officers deploying two tire deflation devices. After running numerous red lights, the Charger driven by Sparks struck the driver’s side of a Chevrolet pickup. Sparks continued driving for about 12 more minutes, when he jumped out of the vehicle while it was still running, and began running on foot between houses. Sparks was found hiding under a porch and was arrested. Officers later found the handgun, with a loaded magazine, on the side of the highway where Sparks had thrown it during the pursuit.
Sparks also admitted that he was in possession of a Llama .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol on March 1, 2017. An employee of the Quality Inn in Springfield alerted the police about a noticeable amount of traffic coming and going from the room rented by Sparks, which is consistent with drug activity. According to court documents, the room’s toilet was flushed multiple times while police were outside the room and a police canine detected the scent of drugs near the toilet, indicating that a large amount of drugs was likely flushed during the delay in opening the door. Sparks jumped from a second-floor window of the room and attempted to flee. However, he landed near two police officers, who detained him. Sparks had $1,203 and two cell phones in his possession. When officers searched the hotel room, they found another $3,049, trace amounts of methamphetamine, and the loaded pistol hidden behind the removable panels around a Jacuzzi tub.
Under federal law, it is illegal for anyone who has been convicted of a felony to be in possession of any firearm or ammunition. Sparks has prior felony convictions for assault (in which he struck another man and knocked out his two front teeth), assault on a law enforcement officer (in which he struck a police vehicle while trying to flee in a stolen vehicle, and injured two officers), and involuntary manslaughter.
According to court documents, the involuntary manslaughter conviction resulted from an incident on Aug. 22, 2010. Police officers responded to a report of an unknown male who had forced entry into a home. Investigators eventually determined the man had come to the home looking for someone and forced his way inside. Sparks admitted to causing the man’s death by punching him while another person restrained him in a chokehold.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Josephine L. Stockard and James J. Kelleher. It was investigated by the Springfield, Mo., Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Drug Enforcement Administration.