Judge Lauren Parish entered the pleas for Sarah Haslam, 20, of Longview and Andrew Conrad Norwine, 21, of Arlington, said Byrd. The arraignments, which followed all three suspects’ indictments last month, was a formality at which the indictments were read and the suspects were formally charged, Byrd said Thursday.
The third suspect, 20-year-old Daniel Paul Jones of Longview, waived arraignment, but all three suspects had already pleaded not guilty, Byrd said. No trial date had been set as of Thursday, the district attorney said.
The three suspects are charged with killing Ronnie Joe Gammage last Dec. 5 by “cutting his throat or neck with a knife or a sharp forged object,” Byrd said recently.
The trio is also charged in Gregg County with the Dec. 5 aggravated kidnapping of the 27-year-old Gammage from a Longview business, Byrd has said.
The suspects remained in Upshur County Jail Thursday under bonds totalling $1.3 million each—$1 million on the capital murder charge and $300,000 on the aggravated kidnapping charge, Byrd said.
Capital murder is punishable under state law only by lethal injection or life imprisonment without parole. Byrd said Thursday he is “still weighing” whether to seek the death penalty, and “still gathering evidence.”
Longview police arrested Jones and Ms. Haslam Dec. 19 on the kidnapping charges after finding Gammage’s body in a pasture at the intersection of Martin Road and Mockingbird Lane in rural southeastern Upshur County the prior day, the district attorney said. The pair was charged with capital murder Dec. 20, Byrd said.
Norwine, who was absent without leave from the U.S. Army at Ft. Polk, La., when Gammage was slain, was arrested there Dec. 24, the prosecutor said.
The suspects are charged with capital murder because it is alleged they were committing another felony—kidnapping—when they killed Gammage, Byrd said.
Each suspect has two court-appointed attorneys who Byrd said meet special qualifications under state law to handle capital murder cases
Ms. Haslam’s lawyers, Mt. Pleasant attorney Charles (Mac) Cobb and Longview attorney Lance Larison appeared with her at Wednesday’s arraignment, while one of Norwine’s representatives, Longview attorney John Moore, also appeared, Byrd’s office said. Norwine’s other attorney is Tyler lawyer Doug Parks.
Longview attorneys Kevin Settle and Jason Cassel represent Jones.