GALENA — On Friday morning, one of two teens charged in the murder of a couple in Lampe earlier this year pleaded not guilty.
During a 9 a.m. hearing in Galena, 16-year-old Christopher James Allen, of Nashville, Tenn., entered a plea of not guilty on all counts, including first-degree murder. Anthony Joseph Zarro, 17, of Spring, Texas, did not enter a plea. Both teens, who are charged in the Jan. 31 murder of Paul and Margaret Brooks, were arraigned.
On Tuesday, Judge Mark Blankenship ruled that the two teen murder suspects will stand trial as adults.
On Jan. 31, both Zarro and Allen were taken into custody by law enforcement after police were called to the Brooks residence on Trace Hallow Lane, according Brian Landreth, an investigator with the Stone County Sheriff’s Department.
Zarro and Allen ran away from the Lives Under Construction Ranch on Jan. 29, and were reportedly staying in a vacant home near where the Brookses were staying in the days leading up to the murder.
When police began the investigation, they found the two bodies, blood stains inside and outside, weapons, and the smell of cleaning products hanging in the air, Landreth said.
The cause of death was determined to be repeated stabbing and bludgeoning, according to court documents.
According to testimony by Landreth during the certification hearing, Zarro and Allen tried to clean up the crime scene and moved the bodies, were in possession of credit cards and identification cards of the Brookses and were in clothes covered in apparent blood spatter.
According to the probable cause statement, when deputies asked Zarro and Allen if there were other people in the house, Zarro said yes, “I killed them. I beat them with a baseball bat and stabbed them.” Landreth said while he was swabbing Zarro’s hands for DNA, Zarro asked why he was swabbing his hands. Landreth said Zarro responded to his answer saying, “Why? I already told you I killed them.’”
Zarro and Allen are facing identical charges, according to online Missouri court records. Zarro and Allen are charged with two counts of first-degree murder, a class A felony, three counts of armed criminal action, an unclassified felony, first-degree robbery, a class A felony, and first-degree burglary, a class B felony.
Because Zarro and Allen have been certified to be charged as adults, the prosecution will now be in hands of Stone County Prosecuting Attorney Matt Selby.
Attorney Mark Rundel, who represented the juvenile office, said certification could be found if there is no probability of rehabilitation or any facility or program for such rehabilitation.
According to the “order dismissing petition” from Judge Alan Blankenship, Zarro and Allen are being tried as adults based on the following reasons:
• The crimes, if committed by adults, are serious.
• The offenses involved viciousness, force and violence and involved the use of or threat of a weapon.
• The alleged offenses are against persons and property.
• The alleged offenses are a part of repetitive pattern of offenses, which indicate the juveniles may be beyond rehabilitation under the juvenile code.
• The juveniles failed to benefit from past rehabilitation services and programs.
• The juveniles are emotionally sophisticated and physically mature.
• No placement, program or facility available to the court for the juvenile’s treatment under the juvenile code would provide sufficient protection to the community.
• Protection of the community requires transfers to the court of general jurisdiction.
• There was no evidence that the juveniles would benefit from treatment in a juvenile facility.
Zarro and Allen are both being held in the Stone County Jail on $2 million cash or surety bonds.
Both have preliminary hearings scheduled for May 29.