The first degree murder trial of Christina Scroggin of Mountain Home will be moved from Baxter County to Marion County, 14th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Ron Kincade announced during a session of Baxter County Circuit Court Thursday.
The 26-year-old Scroggin is charged with killing 24-year-old Raul Turrieta the 3rd of Mountain Home in April 2013.
In another development in the case, Scroggin's attorney, Drew Ledbetter of Fayetteville, told Judge John Putman that the defense was accepting the fact that Scroggin was mentally fit to proceed and would not contest the findings of a psychological evaluation done by doctors at the state hospital in which Scroggin was found capable of standing trial. Ledbetter said he also would not object to the transfer of the case to Marion County.
Kincade said that investigators had determined that the actual site of the murder was in Marion County and not having the trial there might give the defense a basis for appeal. According to investigators' records, Turrieta was killed on a remote Marion County Road. A handwritten note found in Scroggin's car made mention of the spot where investigators believe the shooting took place and various items of physical evidence were gathered at the location.
The prosecuting attorney said he would like to try the case himself which means that it would have to be done before he leaves office in December. Judge Putman said there were dates in September, October, November and December when he would be in Marion County and he would attempt to schedule the case while Kincade was still in office if a date could be work out that was acceptable to all parties.
According to court records, The 26-year-old Scroggin drove to a home at 244 County Road 343 in Baxter County and told the home's owner, Henry Hodges and her ex-husband, Allen David Scroggin, that she might have killed someone and that the victim's body was in the trunk of the 2001 white Honda Civic she had driven to the residence. According to court records, the vehicle was registered to Scroggin's mother, Rozanne Donner.
A 911 call brought law enforcement officers and first responders to the residence. Investigators obtained a key to the vehicle from Scroggin and found Turreta's body in the trunk of the car. He was lying on his stomach with his head, which was bloody and covered with plastic bags, positioned on the passenger side of the car.
A Smith and Wesson .38 caliber pistol was found inside the vehicle. The cylinder of the gun was empty but the plastic bag that the gun was found in contained three spent shell casings and two live rounds. Following an autopsy, the Arkansas State Medical Examiner's office found that Turrieta died from three gunshot wounds, one to the chest and two to the head.
Scroggin has been free on $500,000 bond since May 23 last year.
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