Oklahoma seeks return of Arkansas brothers in slaying

Modified: June 30, 2012 at 4:32 pm •  Published: June 30, 2012
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FORT SMITH, Ark. (AP) — Two brothers serving lengthy prison terms in Arkansas on a variety of charges soon could be transferred to Le Flore County, where they face first-degree murder charges in the 2010 slaying of a Fort Smith woman.

Elvis Aaron Thacker, 24, and Johnathen Don James Edward Thacker, 23, are both charged with first-degree murder in the death of 22-year-old Briana Jane Ault, whose body was discovered in a pond near Leard Cemetery, off Texas Road, in Pocola on Sept. 13. 2010. Her throat was cut, according to a police report.

District Attorney Jeff Smith on Friday announced his office filed paperwork with Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin to have the Thackers transferred from the Arkansas Department of Correction to Le Flore County, to allow prosecution of the murder charges to move forward.

Aaron Cooper, a spokesman for Fallin, said the governor's office received Smith's request June 19, and it was signed and forwarded to Arkansas officials June 21.

Shea Wilson, a Correction Department spokesman, told the Southwest Times Record the request from Oklahoma had been received, but more information is required from Oklahoma officials before a transfer could occur, including how Oklahoma authorities intend to transport the brothers, when they want to transport them, etc.

Oklahoma and Fort Smith authorities went to the Tulsa Square Apartments on Sept. 15, 2010, to arrest the Thackers on an unrelated rape complaint and question them about Ault's death.

When authorities entered the apartment, Elvis Thacker stabbed Fort Smith detective James Melson, and detective Jeff Carter shot Thacker, according to a police report.

As police screamed at Johnathen Thacker to drop his knife, he raised it, “appearing to get ready to stab detective Melson in the back,” before he dropped the knife, according to a statement by detective Michael McCoy.

The Thackers were charged with attempted capital murder and rape in Sebastian County following their arrest on Sept. 15, 2010, and later cut a deal with prosecutors on the Arkansas charges.

Elvis Thacker pleaded guilty to attempted capital murder and kidnapping and was sentenced to 30 years in prison on each charge. The sentences will run concurrently.

Johnathen Thacker pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree murder and kidnapping and was sentenced to 25 years in prison plus 15 years suspended on each charge. The sentences will run concurrently.

Sebastian County deputy prosecuting attorney Michael Wagoner told Sebastian County Circuit Court Judge Michael Fitzhugh during the Aug. 29, 2011, plea hearing that Melson and the victim in the rape case both approved the plea bargain.

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