A Faulkner County judge denied a defense attorney’s request to quash the prosecuting attorney’s subpoena power in a murder case against a 19 year old.
John Kennedy, one of murder suspect Hunter Drexler’s attorneys, said the defense wanted the judge to quash the prosecutor’s subpoena power to avoid harassing the defense’s witnesses.
Defense Attorney Patrick Benca specifically referenced a Sept. 20 incident in his motion where Drexler’s mother, father and grandfather were issued prosecutor subpoenas as they were leaving the courtroom.
"We have the right to do it," Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Hugh Finkelstein said. "It’s not harassment, we’re trying to prepare for a hearing, trying to prepare for trial, trying to find information we believe is relevant to this case."
Drexler, who is accused in the July 2015 shooting deaths of Robert and Patricia Cogdell, has a juvenile transfer hearing scheduled for Oct. 18-21. He was 17 at the time he and three other teens allegedly shot and killed the Conway couple.
He faces two counts each of capital murder, aggravated robbery, theft of property and abuse of a corpse.
The defense is arguing prosecutors are questioning the defense’s witnesses, specifically Drexler’s mother, father and grandfather unfairly.
Finkelstein said the three qualified as witnesses for the state because they were in contact with Drexler the night the Cogdells were murdered and followed three of the four teens accused in the July 2015 slayings to Texas.
"They were at one of the crime scenes, making them witnesses," he said.
Connor Atchley of Greenbrier and Anastasia Roberts of Conway left for Texas with Drexler the night they allegedly killed the Cogdells.
Kennedy said he felt the state’s ability to question its witnesses was "opening the door" to harassing practices.
Finkelstein said prosecutors were not harassing the witnesses. He also said it seemed harassing that about 50 witnesses were set to testify during Drexler’s transfer hearing later this month.
Circuit Judge Troy B. Braswell Jr. denied Kennedy’s request and ordered the two sides to work together and not release witnesses from subpoenas without the other side’s consent.
Two teens accused in the Cogdells’ deaths — Atchley and Justin Staton, 15 — have pleaded guilty.
Staton was sentenced to 35 years in prison. He is currently being held in the Division of Youth Services for killing the Cogdells, who were his legal guardians. He will be transferred to the Arkansas Department of Corrections when he turns 16 in November.
Atchley was sentenced to 25 years in prison with a 15-year suspended imposition.
Roberts, 18, is scheduled to appear next in Faulkner County Circuit Court on Nov. 7 for a juvenile transfer hearing. She was 17 at the time the Cogdells were murdered.
(Staff writer Marisa Hicks can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 505-1277. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)