News and Tribune

January 3, 2014

5:30 P.M. UPDATE: Plea deals for teens charged with murder called off

Attorneys for Floyd County men prepared to go to trial


CORYDON — Possible plea deal for teens accused of murder pulled

Attorneys for Floyd County men prepared to go to trial

CORYDON — Plea deals for two Indiana teenagers accused of robbing and murdering a Harrison County couple were rescinded Friday, according to a report from news partner WAVE 3 News.

Prosecutors had offered Austin Scott, New Albany, and Kevin Schuler, Greenville, life in prison without parole in exchange for guilty pleas in the Aug. 3 murders of Asenath Arnold, 57, and Gary Henderson, 70, but those deals are no longer an option. Both teens, who were 18 at the time of the crime, pleaded not guilty during their first appearance in court following the murders.

“We told the judge that we were not prepared, at this stage, to recommend or discuss with our client whether he should plead guilty to life without parole today because there are a lot of things that we have to do as far as our investigation before we could competently discuss that with him,” said Scott’s court-appointed attorney Christopher Sturgeon.

Investigators said Scott fatally stabbed Henderson and Schuler beat Arnold to death with a wooden stick during a home invasion. The murdered couple ran a business that provided pony rides.

Sturgeon said that during the pretrial conference, “[Prosecutor] Otto [Schalk] said today on the record that he would be filing for the death penalty, here, sometime in the near future. In that case, life without parole is always another option, either through a plea agreement or a recommendation from a jury.”

Sturgeon and Schuler’s private attorney Eric Weitzel said if their clients are tried on capital charges, it will not effect their litigation strategies.

“My game plan is still the same,” Weitzel said, adding said he is continuing to wait for the prosecution to file discovery. “At that time, my client and I will go over options.”

The men are not expected to be tried during a joint trial, according to each attorney. A trail date has not been set.

— Ali Hammond, WAVE 3 News, and Staff Writer Gary Popp contributed to this report.