The state attorney general's office has dropped a murder charge against a Vernon County man who was accused of having his estranged wife killed.

The Joplin Globe reports that Assistant Attorney General David Hansen filed documents in court this week dismissing the first-degree murder charge against 59-year-old Bob Beisly II without prejudice, meaning the charge can be filed again if new evidence is found.

Beisly, a rancher, had been accused of paying a hired hand $10,000 to kill 47-year-old Belinda J. Beisly in July 2009. In a probable-cause affidavit, the hired hand detailed how Beisly allegedly approached him multiple times to commit the crime. The hired hand denies that he is the one who killed Beisly's wife.

The defense filed a motion in recent weeks to have Beisly's murder charge dismissed on grounds that depositions taken in the case revealed that potentially exculpatory evidence had disappeared.