- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 23, 2014

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri judge has rejected a request to set bond for a former school superintendent accused of killing a Springfield couple who police say refused to lend the man $250,000 to cover gambling debts.

Mark Porter is accused of killing Gary Tyrrell, 60, and his wife Jan Tyrrell, 61, in their home on May 1, The Springfield News-Leader (https://sgfnow.co/1zOLKva ) reported. He has been in jail since Aug. 15 on two counts of first-degree murder.

Judge Dan Conklin denied Porter’s bond request last week, citing the Missouri Constitution that requires bail be set “except for capital offenses, when the proof is evident or the presumption great.”

Dee Wampler, Porter’s attorney, argued his client has no prior criminal record, is a respected member of the community and has strong family ties in the area. Wampler also submitted letters vouching for Porter’s character, including several from Assemblies of God officials.

Chief assistant prosecutor Todd Myers argued that the nature of the alleged crime, along with Porter’s gambling history, showed he cannot be trusted.

Police say Porter, 54, who was superintendent at the Mountain Grove School District when Gary Tyrrell was assistant superintendent in the mid-2000s, shot Gary Tyrrell twice and beat Jan Tyrrell to death with an engraved walnut tusk.

Officers discovered the couple’s bodies after their daughter reported she had been unable to contact them. It appeared that someone had tried to break into a safe in the couple’s basement but other expensive items in the house were not touched, according to the probable cause statement.

According to court documents, Porter had “gambling issues” and had asked his longtime friend and co-worker, Gary Tyrrell, for a $250,000 loan shortly before the Tyrrells were found dead.

Tyrrell traded in valuable coins and had many high-end items in the home, police said.

Investigators discovered Porter had sold $18,531 in silver coins the day after the couple’s bodies were found, and documents in the Tyrrell’s home showed they had silver coins valued at $22,000.

Wampler argued there’s not enough evidence to show Porter killed the Tyrrells. He said the only evidence from the crime scene with Porter’s DNA is a latex glove.

Wampler said Tyrrell and Porter often used latex gloves to handle expensive coins, which Tyrrell traded.

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