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story.lead_photo.caption In this jail photo provided by Conway Ark., Police Department, suspect Hunter Drexler stands by a door Friday, Aug. 7, 2015, in Conway.

CONWAY -- A judge Thursday denied bail for the oldest of four teenagers accused in the shooting deaths of a Conway couple.


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Hunter Drexler, 18, of Clinton had hoped to be released on bail, especially after his attorney said Drexler recently had been attacked by five cellmates.

Drexler and Justin Staton, 14, are charged with two counts each of capital murder, aggravated robbery, theft of property by threat and abuse of a corpse in the July 21 deaths of Staton's guardians, Robert and Patricia Cogdell, both 66.

Connor Atchley and Anastasia Roberts, both 17, are charged with two counts each of first-degree murder and felony theft by receiving.

Ruling in Faulkner County Circuit Court, Judge Troy Braswell declined to set bail, even though defense attorney Patrick Benca said Drexler could wear an electronic monitor. Benca also said Drexler's family would surrender passports, put Drexler to work at the family's boating business at Greer's Ferry and keep a close watch on him.

Braswell said he was not convinced Drexler wouldn't cut off an ankle monitor in a capital-murder case because Drexler had cut one off previously in a juvenile case.

Details of the previous case have not been made public because Drexler was not charged as an adult then. He and the other three teens are charged as adults in the Cogdells' deaths.

In seeking bail earlier this month, Benca said Drexler had been the victim of an "unprovoked attack" after he turned 18 in September and was moved to an adult portion of the county jail.

Drexler had a swollen face, a black eye and other injuries, Benca said.

Drexler did not require hospitalization, and an investigation of the attack is underway, Faulkner County Sheriff Matt Rice has said.

On Thursday, Drexler was handcuffed and shackled as family and friends filled one side of the small courtroom. Some testified on his behalf.

His injuries were no longer visible from a short distance, and he said nothing audible in court.

Drexler's mother, Kimberly Ison, and his grandfather, John Ison, were among the witnesses testifying on his behalf.

The prosecution called just one witness, Conway police Sgt. Mike Welsh, who testified that some of the guns -- including an AK-47 -- found in a vehicle after the couple's death had belonged to Drexler's father.

Welsh also testified that Drexler had fled Arkansas with Atchley and Roberts after the crime. Police in Graham, Texas, arrested the three July 23.

"It's inconceivable that he's not a flight risk," Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Hugh Finkelstein said of Drexler.

Benca tried to point to weaknesses in the prosecution's case against Drexler by suggesting the other teens had changed their stories and that Staton had taken responsibility for the killings. Benca also said Drexler's family has "cooperated every step of the way," even while authorities were still trying to find Drexler.

Braswell set Drexler's next pretrial hearing for March 22 and jury trial for April 4-8.

State Desk on 10/23/2015

Print Headline: Judge denies suspect bail in Conway killings


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