Felony charges were filed against five Hot Springs teens on Tuesday in connection with the shooting death of a man whose body was found Aug. 14 in a shallow grave in Pope County.
John George Liapis, 18, Robert Krah, 17, Dakota Lee White, 18, Donald Stone Ritchey, 19, and Logan Chase Snyder, 18, have each been charged with abuse of a corpse, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, and tampering with physical evidence, punishable by up to six years, according to affidavits filed directly to Garland County Circuit Court.
Krah, the alleged shooter, is also charged with manslaughter, punishable by up to 10 years, and White, who allegedly possessed the gun, which had been reported stolen, is also charged with theft by receiving of a firearm, punishable by up to six years. Krah has been charged as an adult, according to a news release issued Thursday by Hot Springs police.
Liapis is also charged with hindering apprehension or prosecution, aggravated assault and first-degree terroristic threatening, each punishable by up to six years. He is accused of pointing a rifle at the head of a witness and threatening to kill her if she told anyone what had happened and lying to Hot Springs police when initially questioned.
The charges stem from the death of Christopher Lee Jennings, 20, who was reportedly last seen on July 27 at 335 Mason St., and was reported missing on Aug. 12, shortly before 11:30 p.m., by his mother after she had received text messages earlier that day stating her son was dead, according to the affidavits.
On Aug. 14, Detective Mark Fallis spoke to witnesses who said Jennings had been killed and buried in Oakland Cemetery in Atkins, located in Pope County. Fallis contacted Pope County Sheriff's investigators and Arkansas State Police, who went to Oakland Cemetery, authorities said.
"A few minutes later, they called me back and told me they found what appeared to be a body wrapped in plastic buried in a shallow grave," Fallis said. The two agencies worked the scene, removed the body and sent it to the state crime lab for positive identification. On Aug. 17, the crime lab reportedly identified the body as Jennings and ruled it a homicide.
Warrants for the five were issued Wednesday and Liapis was booked into the Garland County Detention Center on his charges shortly after 1:30 p.m. and held on a $30,000 bond. White was booked in on his charges shortly after 11:30 a.m. and later released on a $20,000 bond. Ritchey was booked in shortly after 4:30 p.m. and was being held on $15,000 bond and Snyder was booked in shortly before 5 p.m. and was being held on $20,000 bond.
A gag order limiting pretrial publicity was also issued Wednesday by Judge John Homer Wright.