Teen Pleads Guilty to Killing Grandparents

     (CN) – An Arkansas teenager pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges he robbed and killed the couple who had raised him as their grandson.
     Robert and Patricia Cogdell, both 66 at the time of their deaths, were shot to death on July 21, 2015.
     They had raised Justin Staton even after discovery through a 2008 DNA test that their son, Robert Shane Cogdell, was not his father.
     Prosecutors alleged Staton and a friend, Hunter Drexler, robbed the Cogdells and shot them to death in their Conway, Arkansas home, before dumping their bodies in a wooded area behind the house.
     Two other teens, Connor Atchley and Anastasia Roberts were are also alleged to have been involved, and have been charged as adults with first-degree murder and theft by receiving.
     Staton originally pleaded not guilty, but on Tuesday he told Faulkner County Circuit Court Judge Troy Braswell he had changed his mind.
     He pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder and robbery-related charges.
     “I hope every day for the rest of your life, you think about them,” Braswell told Staton as he accepted the change of plea.
     “They loved you and took care of you,” the judge said. “The thanks you gave them was murder.”
     Braswell then sentenced him to 35 years in prison.
     As part of his plea deal, Staton agreed to testify against the other teens charged in the shootings.
     Prosecutors said Staton has given them access to his iPod and to text messages between him and Drexler that would show Drexler’s role in planning and acting out the killings.
     They also said they have asked the FBI for help in gaining access to Drexler’s iPod and iPhone.
     Drexler has pleaded not guilty to two charges each of capital murder, aggravated robbery, theft of property obtained by threat of serious physical injury and abuse of a corpse.
     Staton’s 35-year sentence for first-degree murder will run concurrently with a 35-year sentence for aggravated robbery, a 20-year sentence for theft, and a 10-year sentence for abuse of a corpse.

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