Prosecutor seeks life for double murder suspect
Paschall's motion to dismiss thrown out by judge; jury trial date set
The special prosecutor leading the double murder case against Christopher Paschall has waived the right to seek the death penalty, instead seeking life in prison.
In a filing in Barry County court on Sept. 19, Assistant Attorney General Darrell Moore, special prosecutor in the case assisting Barry County Prosecutor Amy Boxx, said the state will prosecute Paschall under the present charges of murder in the first degree, along with the other charges, but waives its right to seek the death penalty if successful on the merits on the murder charges, and no aggravating circumstances will be pursued.
In total, Paschall faces six felony charges: two counts of first-degree murder, three counts of armed criminal action and one count of parental kidnapping. Paschall was originally facing three charges: first-degree murder, armed criminal action and first-degree assault. However, those charges were amended on Oct. 23, 2015, nearly 10 months after the original incident occurred.
The charges stem from the alleged shootings of Casey Brace, 29, and her grandfather, Herbert Townsend, 67, along with the alleged kidnapping of Brace's daughter, 2-year-old Alli Paschall, at a home near Farm Road 1055 and Eighth Street in Washburn.
The decision of intent to waive the death penalty came 17 days after Jack Aaron Louis Goodman, presiding judge for the 39th Judicial Circuit, denied a motion to dismiss filed on behalf of Paschall by his attorney, Andrew Miller. In that motion, filed on July 5, Miller claimed the case should be dismissed for violation of Paschall's right to a speedy trial under the Speedy Trial Act and the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
The Speedy Trial Act in the Missouri Constitution denotes the state must bring a defendant to trial within 180 days from the time of arraignment. After being bound over to Circuit Court, Paschall was arraigned on April 19, and 180 days from that date is Oct. 16. Paschall's initial formal arraignment was on Feb. 25, and 180 days from that date is Aug. 23.
Miller said Paschall filed a 180-day writ pro se on May 11, 2015, while still incarcerated in Washington County, Ark., asking the state of Missouri to bring forward any and all charges or dismiss without prejudice. However, on May 26, 2015, the court found Paschall ineligible for the writ, deeming the motion premature. A second writ was denied on Feb. 2.
A trial date was scheduled for Sept. 27, 2017, nearly a year and a half after the arraignment date, Miller said in the motion to dismiss.
"Continuing the delay of this case lacks valid excuse," he wrote. "Moreover, continuing delay causes anxiety and concern to [Paschall], who continues to be held on pending charges, as well as impedes the defense's ability to expiditiously handle evidence, witnesses and other aspects vital to the trial process."
On Sept. 2, Goodman denied the motion to dismiss, offering a trial date of March 22, 2017. The case was then reset to Sept. 19, where Paschall would be able to confer with counsel and decide if he would like the earlier trial date. On that day, Paschall agreed to a five-day jury trial on March 27, 2017, and Moore also filed the intent to seek life.
On the day of the murders, Paschall allegedly shot Brace and Townsend, then took the 2-year-old and fled to his mother's home in Springdale, Ark. About four hours after the shooting, the Springdale Police Department's SWAT Team arrested Paschall, and the girl was found unharmed. A ping from Paschall's cell phone led to his location.
An autopsy report revealed Brace was shot three times, and Townsend was shot five times, all with a handgun. Townsend, holding a rifle in his hands and still alive after the shooting, called 911 and reported to deputies that Paschall was the shooter. He died at Cox South Hospital in Springfield as a result of his injuries.
Paschall was extradited to Barry County in February after his mother posted cash bonds of $100,000 and $2,500 for charges he faced in Arkansas.
Paschall is being held in the Barry County jail on no bond.