By Alan Sorensen
The three teen-agers charged with murder in the shooting deaths of two Havre residents in September will not face the death penalty. The maximum penalty that Reid Danell and Jacob Spang, both 18, and Francine Spang, 16, can receive if found guilty of murder is life in prison.
All three are charged with two counts of deliberate homicide by application of the felony murder rule, two counts of intimidation by accountability, one count of tampering with evidence, and one count of felony theft of a car.
Kristi Walker, 30, and Kevin Caplette, 35, were found shot to death at a home in the 1200 block of Sixth Street shortly before 1 p.m. on Sept. 16.
Hill County Attorney David Rice said this morning that he opted against pursuing the death penalty for several reasons.
"There are statutory requirements that had to be met to impose the death penalty and I didn't think there was evidence to support it," Rice said. "They can still be sentenced to life imprisonment. Life in prison is the maximum sentence that can be imposed."
Rice said he also conferred with the families of both victims before making his decision.
Twelfth Judicial District Court Judge John Warner had issued an order on Feb. 17 that Rice had until Feb. 25 to file a motion for the death penalty. Rice said he decided to let the deadline pass, thus vacating any possibility that the youths will face execution.
A hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. next Wednesday for Judge Warner to hear several motions from prosecutors and defense counsels. Rice is expected at that time to ask Warner to allow the state to try all three defendants together.
A hearing to suppress evidence in the Danell case is scheduled 1:30 p.m. the same day.