Prosecutors in Missouri plan to seek the death penalty in a case involving a man accused of murdering two people according to the public defender representing him. The public defender’s appointment suggests that the claim is true as he exclusively handles capital cases. The man’s previous defense attorney submitted motions to have the trial venue changed and a different judge appointed. The motion to change judges was granted, but media reports do not indicate whether or not the trial will be moved.
84-day investigation leads to a raft of felony charges
The man has been charged with two counts each of first-degree murder, abandoning a corpse, tampering with evidence and armed criminal action. He also faces weapons charges. The victims were two Wisconsin brothers who visited the man’s Braymer farm to collect a $250,000 debt. The investigation was launched in July 2019 when the victims’ father contacted law enforcement to report them missing. During the course of the 84-day investigation, police collected DNA samples from the man’s farm, clothing and a dirt sample that was recovered from a trailer. The trailer was purchased by a Nebraska resident from a seller in Missouri.
Police use DNA to determine the sequence of events
After collecting and analyzing the DNA samples, police determined that the man shot the brothers at his farm and then placed their bodies in two 55-gallon metal barrels. He then allegedly burned the bodies and disposed of the remains. When he learned that a neighbor had reported hearing gunshots on the night in question, the man is said to have told detectives that he used a firearm to deal with two animals.
The challenges prosecutors face in death penalty cases
Criminal charges must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, and prosecutors may find it difficult to convince juries to return guilty verdicts when doing so will lead to the death penalty being handed down. If you or somebody you know has been charged with a serious violent crime, an experienced criminal defense attorney could seek to have the penalties reduced during plea negotiations. An attorney could also advise against speaking to police without a lawyer present and making false or misleading statements to law enforcement.