An attorney representing the Bonne Terre man charged with the Nov. 2016 murder of an area businessman presented a motion to Circuit Court Judge Wendy Wexler Horn Wednesday, requesting authorities to complete a deposition of an out-of-state witness.
Saying she saw no reason to deny the request, Judge Horn approved the motion.
At a Jan. 19 hearing before Judge Horn, Anthony Caruthers' defense had requested a continuance in the case citing three reasons, including a lack of evidence from the prosecution, a need to verify the mental competency of the accused and the need to issue an out-of-state subpoena for a witness in California.
The defense argued at that time that the Californian witness had been exchanged messages with the victim, Michael VanStavern, and could testify regarding the state of the victim's mind preceding the altercation at Red Cedar Lodge, which resulted in VanStavern's death.
During the Jan. 19 hearing, St. Francois County Prosecuting Attorney Jerrod Mahurin had questioned the necessity of such a deposition, as he contended that the witness could introduce no substantial new evidence for the court, with the witness being in California before, during and after the commission of the crime.
Judge Horn granted a short continuance at the January hearing, saying while she wanted the trial to go ahead as scheduled, she also did not want to have to try the case over because the defenses' concerns were overlooked.
Originally scheduled for Feb. 8-9, the jury trial was rescheduled for April 23-24.
Less than a month before Caruthers' continuance was granted, Caruthers’ original attorney withdrew at his request and a new defense team took over.
Caruthers' co-defendant, Jeremy Reed entered an Alford plea to charges of second-degree burglary and tampering with physical evidence in connection with the crime. Reed allegedly went to the Red Cedar Lodge and helped Caruthers move VanStavern's body and subsequently went to the victim's Farmington apartment and took items for the purpose of pawning or selling them.
Reed would have faced a maximum of 11 years if found guilty of the charges, but was instead sentenced to eight years by Judge Horn in exchange for his plea.
In July, Caruthers refused a plea deal offered by the prosecution in exchange for a charge reduction from first-degree to second-degree murder. If he had accepted the deal, Caruthers would have faced life in prison with the possibility of parole for the murder charge and a combined 37 years in prison for the other various charges he faces.
The plea deal was offered to Caruthers during a hearing to consider the defense’s motion to suppress a video confession made by Caruthers at the St. Francois County Jail following his arrest, with his attorney contending that the confession was made after the accused had suffered a head injury and while he was under emotional duress. After viewing the complete video confession, Judge Horn overruled the motion to suppress the evidence.
Caruthers will face a jury trial April 23-24 for the charges of first-degree murder, armed criminal action, two counts of second-degree burglary, theft/stealing, two counts of tampering with a motor vehicle, tampering with physical evidence in a felony prosecution, resisting arrest and attempted escape from custody.