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Teenager pleads innocent in Spa City shooting death

by Steven Mross | August 28, 2020 at 4:15 a.m.

HOT SPRINGS -- A teen charged with manslaughter and other felony counts in the shooting of a man whose body was found Aug. 14 in a shallow grave in Pope County pleaded innocent to the charges Thursday in Garland County Circuit Court.

Robert "Robbie" Krah, 17, of Hot Springs was arrested Wednesday and charged with manslaughter and abuse of a corpse, each punishable by up to 10 years in prison, and tampering with physical evidence, punishable by up to six years, in the death of Christopher Lee Jennings of Hot Springs.

Jennings, 20, was last seen July 27 and was reported missing by his mother Aug. 12.

Krah, who lists no previous criminal history, was charged as an adult and was being held on $50,000 bond at the Garland County Juvenile Detention Center because of his age. He appeared Thursday morning in circuit court with his attorney, Clay Janske, to enter his pleas. A hearing on the admissibility of any statements he made to Hot Springs police is set for Sept. 21.

Four other teens also were arrested Wednesday on various charges in Jennings' death and the attempt to hide his body in the back of a cemetery in Atkins.

John George Liapis, 18, of 335 Mason St.; Dakota Lee White, 18, who lists a Little Mazarn Road address; and Donald Stone Ritchey, 19, and Logan Chase Snyder, 18, who each list a Beard Street address, were each charged with abuse of a corpse and tampering with physical evidence, according to affidavits filed directly to circuit court Tuesday.

White, who reportedly had the gun, which had been reported stolen, is also charged with theft by receiving of a firearm, punishable by up to six years. Liapis is also charged with hindering apprehension or prosecution, aggravated assault and first-degree terroristic threatening, each punishable by up to six years. The charges stem from lying to police when first questioned, and for pointing a rifle at the head of a female witness and threatening to kill her if she told anyone what had happened, according to reports.

White was released on a $20,000 bond, and Liapis was released on a $30,000 bond. Snyder and Ritchey remained in custody Thursday on $20,000 and $15,000 bonds, respectively, and will likely be arraigned Monday or Tuesday in circuit court.

A gag order limiting pretrial publicity in the case was issued Wednesday by Judge John Homer Wright.

Jennings was last seen July 27 at 335 Mason St., the home of Liapis, and was reported missing Aug. 12 after his mother received text messages stating that her son was dead, according to affidavits.

On Aug. 14, detective Mark Fallis spoke to witnesses who said Jennings had been killed and buried in Oakland Cemetery in Atkins. Fallis contacted Pope County sheriff's investigators and the Arkansas State Police, who went to the cemetery and found what was later confirmed to be Jennings' body wrapped in plastic and buried in a shallow grave.

That same day, Krah went to the Police Department with his mother to be questioned and stated that on July 28 he was at 335 Mason St. "hanging out with friends," according to an affidavit. He said Jennings was "playing around with a gun," and he told him a few times to stop. After the last time Krah told him, Jennings handed the gun to him, the affidavit said. Krah said that as he took the gun he touched the trigger and it "went off" and struck Jennings, who fell, the affidavit said.

In the affidavit for Krah, Fallis noted that he interviewed other witnesses who said that at the time of the shooting, Krah was "dancing and waving the gun around when it discharged and killed [Jennings]."

Krah said he dropped the gun and went outside, according to an affidavit. He said the others helped wrap Jennings in plastic and put him in the back of a vehicle, the affidavit said. He said Liapis and White then took Jennings to Atkins and buried him in back of a cemetery, according to the affidavit.

Krah said he went to the cemetery two days later with three others and moved Jennings' body "further into the woods" and reburied him, the affidavit said.

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