Hunter John Drexler, 17, and Justin Shane Staton, 14, were charged Friday with two counts each of capital murder, aggravated robbery, theft of property and abuse of corpse in the July 21 deaths of Robert and Patricia Cogdell of Conway.
20th District Prosecuting Attorney Cody Hiland said the teenagers are charged as adults.
“This was a double homicide that affected not only our community, but also the community of our neighbors in Maumelle,” Conway Police Chief A.J. Gary said during a press conference Friday.
“Detectives have been working around the clock on this case, and they’ve done what I think is an outstanding job pulling all the evidence together. As of late last night, detectives were still working on final affidavits and arrest warrants.”
According to the affidavits filed Friday, the teens “attempted to commit aggravated robbery” and “caused the death of a person under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life.”
Hiland said that while he could not comment on sentencing, the death penalty was not possible.
“The supreme court has spoken as it relates to the ability to pursue the death penalty for juveniles, so that is no longer on the table for a juvenile charged as an adult,” he said.
Staton, the Cogdells’ grandson, was located at his mother’s home on Wednesday, July 22, after investigators found the couple’s bodies in the wood line behind the couple’s home at 4803 Quail Run Circle. Several .22 caliber shell casings and two .22 caliber rifles were also found in the garage.
Investigators said Randy Staton, Staton’s maternal grandfather, met them in the driveway at 128 Pine Valley Road and said his grandson admitted that he was involved in the Cogdells’ deaths.
He gave the investigators a piece of paper containing Drexler’s name and said he was also responsible.
A white Toyota Tundra that had been missing from the residence at Quail Run Circle was located behind a workshop next to the home of Randy and Michelle Staton. Detectives found an AK-47, a 12-gauge shotgun, a Smith & Wesson .22 caliber pistol with a red dot scope and a 1911 style .45 caliber pistol in the truck along with pistol magazines and ammunition.
Investigators flew to Graham, Texas, where Drexler and two other teens, Conner Atchley and Anastasia Roberts, were detained. Atchley and Roberts have not been charged in connection with the double homicide but are charged as adults with minor crimes in Texas.
During a search of Drexler’s vehicle in Texas, investigators found credit cards for the City of Maumelle where Robert Cogdell worked as the public works director as well as personal credit cards and a Department of Veterans Affairs card belonging to Robert Cogdell.
Staton told detectives during interviews that Drexler suggested shooting and killing the Cogdells after Staton told him about “issues” with his grandparents.
He said he thought Drexler was kidding, but when the couple arrived at the home on July 21, Drexler shot them.
Staton told investigators he was holding a .22 caliber pistols when Drexler fired the shots at his grandparents, and he accidentally fired a round that struck Atchley in the chest.
Investigators learned through interviews with Atchley, Roberts and Drexler that Staton made a plan while Drexler, Atchley and he were in juvenile jail together. He planned to kill his grandparents and split a large sum of money that he later estimated at between $50,000 and $90,000.
Roberts told investigators that she and Atchley were present at the scene on July 21 and were aware that the couple was to be killed.
She said she did not see any shots fired but believed Hunter fired the initial shots at Robert Cogdell that were not fatal, and she told Staton he should “be put out of his misery.”
She said she did not see Staton fire the shots that killed Cogdell, but he was standing over him immediately after she heard them.
The four teens left Staton at his mother’s home on Pine Valley and left.
Atchley told investigators that Staton gave him $1,000 and gave Drexler $500. He said Drexler supplied the guns for the plan, which were stolen from his father’s collection. He said Atchley contributed his “vast knowledge of marijuana.”
Atchley and Roberts said they were to receive the Cogdells’ BMW, cash and credit cards in exchange for their role in the murders.
According to the affidavit, Staton admitted to firing the pistol one time, striking Atchley. Roberts also had a gunshot wound to the left forearm.
Detectives found that the spent shell casings found at the scene were from two weapons, a Ruger rifle and a Smith & Wesson pistol. Another Ruger rifle was used to fire the shells recovered in the garage where Patricia Cogdell was shot.
A High Standard rifle that was found in the garage did not appear to have been used.
Investigators said Staton admitted to helping Drexler move the Cogdells’ bodies to the wood line and showed him how to operate the tractor that was located at the scene July 22.
Gary said the investigation is still ongoing, and Hiland said he anticipates that additional charges will be filed.
A status hearing is scheduled for Staton on Aug. 25, 2015. No scheduling information was available for Drexler.
(Staff writer Jessica Booker can be reached by email at email@example.com, by phone at 505-1277 or on Twitter @jmthauser. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to thecabin.net. Send us your news at thecabin.net/submit.)