- Associated Press - Monday, April 4, 2016

POTEAU, Okla. (AP) - Jury selection opened Monday for a man accused of killing an Arkansas woman whose body was found in an Oklahoma pond in 2010.

Prosecutors have said they’ll seek the death penalty against Elvis Thacker, 28, of Cedarville, Arkansas, if he is convicted of first-degree murder and sodomy in the September 2010 death of Briana Ault, 22, of Fort Smith.

Police said at the time of Ault’s disappearance that she had told friends at a club she was leaving to meet a man. Prosecutors said Thacker sent Ault a text message around the time she disappeared. A fisherman later found her body floating in a pond and her throat had been slit.

Thacker’s brother Johnathen pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in 2014 to avoid the possibility of execution. In a plea bargain, prosecutors said they would drop a sodomy charge against Johnathen Thacker if he testifies truthfully against his brother.

LeFlore County District Judge Jon Sullivan set aside a week for jury selection and clerks said Monday that 300 or more potential jurors were being summoned to the courthouse in shifts. The trial could take a month.

Both Thackers are serving time for separate convictions in Arkansas. Police say Elvis Thacker stabbed a police detective who had arrived to arrest him in Ault’s death and another detective shot Elvis Thacker in the abdomen. His brother, too, pulled a knife, according to police.

According to a police affidavit, Elvis Thacker confessed while waiting for treatment following the shooting. “Yeah, I did it,” Elvis Thacker said, according to police. “I killed Briana and burned her car. I’m not going to say any more until the hospital saves me.”

The pair also pleaded guilty to charges stemming from an attack on another woman before Ault disappeared.

Elvis Thacker pleaded guilty to attempted capital murder and kidnapping and was sentenced to 30 years in prison on each charge. Johnathen Thacker pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree murder and kidnapping and was sentenced to 25 years in prison plus 15 years suspended on each charge.


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