Hearing in truck burning case UPDATE | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Hearing in truck burning case UPDATE

Posted By on Thu, Jan 27, 2011 at 11:40 AM

Gatrell: Withdraws motion to be tried as a juvenile.
  • Brian Chilson
  • Gatrell: Withdraws motion to be tried as a juvenile.
Daniel Gatrell, who was 16 when he was arrested for the Dec. 12 murder of 23-month-old Hannah Grace Dowdie and her father, Michael, will appear in Pulaski Circuit Judge Chris Piazza's courtroom today. Piazza's clerk said he'll either enter a plea or ask for his trial to be moved to juvenile court (SEE UPDATE BELOW).

Police say cousins Daniel and Robert Gatrell ambushed and killed Michael Dowdie over a plot to steal tires from Gatrell's grandfather, and because Dowdie owed Robert Gatrell money. After loading Dowdie's body in the back of his own pickup truck, police say, the pair allegedly drove the truck to a muddy road near Sweet Home, doused the toddler with gasoline while she was still strapped into her car seat, and set the truck ablaze. According to an affidavit released in the case, Robert Gatrell confessed to several relatives, and was briefly hospitalized because he caught himself on fire while lighting the truck. The cousins are each charged with two counts of capital murder, and one count of arson.

UPDATE: David Koon calls in with an update. Daniel Gatrell, the younger of the two defendants in the case, turned down a plea deal and withdrew his motion to transfer to juvenile court. His trial date will be May 18, and a pre-trial will be held in March. Deputy Prosecutor John Johnson said he could not disclose the terms of the plea bargain turned down by Gatrell. Hubert Alexander, Gatrell's attorney, also said he could not disclose the terms of the deal.

Asked in court whether Robert Gatrell would testify against Daniel Gatrell, Johnson said that while no deal has been made, defense attorneys for Daniel Gatrell should prepare for that possibility.

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