Justin Staton was fourteen years old when he took part in the robbery and murder of a couple who helped raise him. According to police the Arkansas couple were found shot to death on their property and one of the suspects arrested, Justin Staton, was a teenager who they took in even after they learned he was not their biological grandchild. Justin Staton would take a plea at trial and this teen killer would receive a thirty five year prison sentence.
Justin Staton 2021 Information
|Name:||Staton, Justin S|
|Initial Receipt Date:||05/19/2016|
|Current Facility:||Tucker Unit|
Justin Staton Other News
A teenager pleaded guilty Tuesday to the robbery and killing of a Conway couple who served as his legal guardians for years as part of a deal that requires him to offer testimony in the cases of three other teens charged in the deaths.
Justin Staton, 15, wiped away tears as he took the stand to tell Faulkner County Circuit Court Judge Troy Braswell that he understood that the agreement came with a recommended 35-year prison sentence.
Attorneys said Staton will remain in a juvenile correction facility until he is 16 years old and then be transferred to the Arkansas Department of Correction. He will be eligible for parole after serving 70 percent of his sentence, which is more than 24 years.
Staton pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder, which were reduced from capital murder. He also pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery, theft by threat and abuse of a corpse in the July 2015 deaths of Robert and Patricia Cogdell.
The Cogdells weren’t Staton’s biological grandparents, but they raised the boy even after discovering via genetic testing in 2008 that their son, Robert Shane Cogdell, was not Staton’s father.
“I hope every day for the rest of your life, you think about them,” Braswell told Staton. “Because they loved you and took care of you. … And the thanks you gave them was murder.”
Staton was not eligible for the death penalty because he was 14 at the time of the crime, but he faced the possibility of life in prison.
Staton looked up during the hearing and answered the judge’s questions in a clear voice. But when asked if he had anything to say to the court, he wept again and whispered something inaudible.
The deal also required Staton to provide the state with the password to an iPod that prosecutor Hugh Alan Finkelstein said contained “substantial evidence” against Hunter Drexler, another teen who faces capital murder charges in the case.
Finkelstein said the iPod was used to send messages to an iPhone police obtained from Drexler, but which they have been unable to unlock. A separate prepaid phone prosecutors say was purchased with $700 of the $3,000 taken from the Cogdells has not been recovered, according to Finkelstein.
Prosecutors allege the pair robbed and shot the Cogdells at their Conway home, then dumped their bodies in a wooded area nearby. Two other teens, Connor Atchley and Anastasia Roberts, both 17, are charged as adults with first-degree murder and theft by receiving.
Prosecutors allege three of the teens came up with the plan to kill the Cogdells while they were in a juvenile detention center together.
Justin Staton Other News
Robert and Patricia Cogdell helped raise Justin Staton.
They were the teen’s legal guardians, a role they took on even after learning that Staton wasn’t their biological grandson, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
But in 2015, the Cogdells were fatally shot, their bodies found near their Arkansas home, and Staton, at the age of 14, was among those charged in their killings. The Associated Press reported that the plot was a “robbery-and-murder scheme,” concocted with other teens during a stint in juvenile jail.
This week, Staton, who is now 15, pleaded guilty to a handful of charges, including two counts of first-degree murder, according to court documents.
“I hope every day for the rest of your life, you think about them,” Faulkner County Circuit Court Judge Troy Braswell told Staton in court, according to the AP. “Because they loved you and took care of you … and the thanks you gave them was murder.”
Staton, who was charged and tried as an adult, was sentenced to a 35-year prison term.
“This is tragic for everybody,” his attorney, Gina Reynolds, told The Post. “My client has provided information to the prosecutor and in exchange for that, he was offered this plea deal. We hope that this eventually manages to give the family some peace.”
According to the Democrat-Gazette, Staton agreed to testify against the others charged in the shootings — a group that includes Hunter Drexler, who was 17 at the time of the crime. The newspaper reported that Staton also turned over the passcode for an Apple device that contains text messages exchanged with Drexler.
“The state believes it has determined what the appropriate pyramid of culpability is related to the 4 defendants in the case and the Staton plea is the first step pursuing that theory of the case,” 20th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Cody Hiland said in an email to The Post. “As the result of information obtained from the plea, the state hopes to bolster its position relative to the other defendant(s) in this matter and hopefully bring some measure of justice in the death of two of people whose only crime was loving their grandson.
The case was detailed in a brief document filed on the same day as the plea.
The court filing alleges that Staton — along with Drexler and another teen — plotted to kill the Cogdells “in order to get money to help them run away from Arkansas.”
Drexler brought the firearms, the court documents allege, and both he and Staton were “armed with guns in the killing of Robert and Patricia Cogdell.”
“After the Cogdells were shot, Hunter Drexler wrapped the body of Robert Cogdell in a rug and Justin used a front loader to move his body to the tree line on the property,” the document states.
The machine was also used to move the body of Patricia Cogdell, according to the filing.
“Both bodies were dumped in the woods,” the document states.
Drexler and Staton then drove to a Walmart, where Drexler “paid over $700 in cash for a cell phone and prepaid minutes,” using money that had been taken from Robert Cogdell, the document alleges.
Frequently Asked Questions
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Justin Staton is currently incarcerated at the Tucker Unit in Arkansas
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Justin Staton is serving a life without parole