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Bentonville man found fit to stand trial in murder case

by Tracy Neal | October 12, 2021 at 4:00 a.m.
Glenn Thatcher

BENTONVILLE -- A local circuit judge Monday found a Bentonville man fit to stand trial for killing another man and possessing child pornography.

Judge Robin Green made the ruling at a hearing in Glenn Thatcher's criminal cases.

Thatcher, 44, is charged with capital murder and two counts regarding distributing, possessing or viewing matter depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a child. He previously pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Thatcher is accused of killing Robert Blau, whose body was found Feb. 1 in a building in Gateway.

Police obtained a search warrant for Thatcher's cellphone after his arrest in the murder case, and suspected child pornography was found on the phone, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Benton County Sheriff's Office detectives obtained the warrant to examine the phone to corroborate Thatcher's statements regarding the blackmail and extortion he claimed he experienced from Blau leading up to the slaying, according to court documents.

The examination of the cellphone found suspected images of child pornography involving children from 6 to 9 years old and some images of teens younger than 17, according to court documents.

Abigail Taylor, a forensic examiner at the Arkansas State Hospital, testified at Monday's hearing she did the evaluation on Thatcher and found he didn't have a mental disease or defect and he had the ability to assist his attorney with his defense.

She also determined Thatcher had the capacity to understand criminal conduct.

Taylor told Joshua Robinson, deputy prosecutor, that Thatcher's explanation of his conduct was rational, and he was more fearful of the alleged victim than incarceration. Taylor said she watched Thatcher's interrogation and there was no indication he was suffering from a mental disease or defect.

Taylor testified Thatcher was diagnosed years ago with a depressive disorder and a history of drug use, but she didn't believe those issues would prevent Thatcher from assisting with his defense.

Bill James, Thatcher's attorney, withdrew his objection to the finding after Taylor's testimony. James told the judge he will maintain the defense of mental disease or defect.

Green asked Robinson if the death penalty was still on the table.

"I'm not prepared to waive the death penalty at this time," Robinson said.

Green scheduled an omnibus hearing for Nov. 29.

Chelsea Yates, who was Thatcher's roommate, told Bentonville police Thatcher told her he shot and killed Blau, according to the affidavit. Yates told officers Thatcher showed the pistol he claimed was used in the slaying, according to the affidavit.

Bentonville police provided the information to Benton County sheriff's deputies, who went to 20147 U.S. 62 in Gateway and found Blau's body. Medics found a small bullet wound in Blau's chest, according to the affidavit.

Thatcher is being held without bond in the Benton County Jail.

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The charge

Glenn Thatcher, 44, of Bentonville faces a sentence of life imprisonment or the death penalty if convicted of capital murder. He faces, if convicted, 3 to 10 years in prison on each of two counts of distributing, possessing or viewing matter depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a child.

Source: Benton County Circuit Court

Print Headline: Bentonville man found fit to stand trial in murder case

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