- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 25, 2015

CONWAY, Ark. (AP) - A 14-year-old boy from central Arkansas pleaded not guilty Tuesday to two counts of capital murder in the July 21 shooting deaths of a couple who raised him as their grandson.

Wearing jail garb and shackled at the waist, Justin Staton did not speak during Tuesday’s arraignment in Faulkner County Circuit Court. He is charged as an adult in the killing of Robert and Patricia Cogdell, both 66.

The Cogdells were found shot to death at their home in Conway, about 30 miles north of Little Rock, after Robert Cogdell failed to report to work as the Public Works Director in nearby Maumelle. Police said Staton and 17-year-old Hunter Drexler shot the couple then dragged their bodies to some woods behind the house.

Drexler has pleaded not guilty to capital murder.

The teens also pleaded not guilty to two counts each of aggravated robbery, theft of property obtained by threat of serious physical injury and abuse of a corpse.



The court addressed a handful of motions during the brief hearing Tuesday.

Staton’s attorney, Gina H. Reynolds, had asked Circuit Court Judge Troy Braswell to allow Staton to wear street clothes to avoid influencing a potential jury pool, but said she was satisfied with deputies bringing him into the court through the basement to avoid media photographs of him wearing jail garb.

Reynolds also asked Braswell if she could take charge of Staton’s visitation schedule because his maternal grandfather, Randy Staton, had not been allowed to visit. The judge referred Reynolds to sheriff’s office staff for a solution.

An affidavit says Randy Staton told officers that his grandson should be arrested in the shootings, and provided them with Drexler’s name, saying he was the other teen involved.

The affidavit says the younger Staton told officers that he complained to Drexler about his grandparents and that his friend suggested that he shoot them. Another 17-year-old boy who was present during the attack told officers the plan had been conceived while all three were in juvenile detention together.

“Justin’s plan was to shoot and kill his grandparents, split a large sum of money and credit cards between the three of them and then they would all run away,” according to the affidavit. “Justin estimated their take at $50,000 to $90,000.”

Court documents say the Cogdells weren’t Staton’s biological grandparents. The Cogdells discovered via genetic testing in 2008 that their son, Robert Shane Cogdell, was not Staton’s father, but they continued to raise the boy nonetheless.

Reynolds declined to comment after the proceedings. Staton is due back in court Oct. 28 for a pretrial hearing.

He faces up to life in prison if convicted of capital murder.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide