Attorney seeks another exam for teen in Conway slayings

CONWAY -- A judge on Thursday rescheduled a pretrial hearing for one of four teenagers who were charged with murdering a Conway couple almost two years ago.

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Anastasia Roberts, 18, of Conway has undergone mental evaluations requested by the defense, but her attorney, James Wyatt, says she needs one more exam before he will feel confident on how to proceed with her case.

The prosecution did not object, and Judge Troy Braswell scheduled Roberts' next hearing for 9 a.m. June 20 in Faulkner County Circuit Court.

Roberts is charged with two counts each of first-degree murder and theft by receiving in the July 21, 2015, shooting deaths of Robert and Patricia Cogdell, both 66.

Wyatt could pursue one of several steps at the next hearing. He could request a hearing seeking to transfer Roberts' case to juvenile court where she likely would face a less-severe sentence if she is convicted. He could seek to enter a negotiated plea agreement with the prosecution. Among other options, he could argue that Roberts is mentally incompetent to face trial, a move that probably would result in the prosecution's seeking a separate mental-health evaluation at the State Hospital.

Roberts has been jailed since her arrest in Texas in July 2015. She stood silently by her attorney in court Thursday.

Roberts' boyfriend, Connor Atchley, 18, of Greenbrier, has been convicted and sent to prison for his role in the killings. Justin Staton, who lived with the Cogdells who were his guardians, also is in prison.

The fourth teenager, Hunter Drexler, 19, of Clinton remains jailed without bail and is awaiting trial. Drexler is charged with two counts of capital murder, abuse of a corpse, aggravated robbery and theft of property by threat.

Drexler's attorney, Patrick Benca, is appealing Braswell's decision rejecting a transfer to juvenile court.

State Desk on 04/21/2017

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