A jury will be imported to Taney County to hear the murder trial of Tony Lee Friend.
Friend, 45, of Springfield, is facing two counts of first-degree murder, felonious restraint and armed criminal action for the April 2011 double murder of Rusty and Becky Porter. He is due back in court on March 28th
The Porter's went missing from their home near Willard in April of 2011 and their skeletal remains were found near Cedarcreek in rural Taney County three months later.
|Rusty and Becky Porter|
Judge Mark Orr has already granted change of venue motion for Dusty Hicks. The motion for a change of venue for Phillip Friend, Tony Friend's son, is expected to be taken up on February 7th. Both men are also charged with two counts of first-degree murder, felonious restraint and armed criminal action.
|Phillip Lee Friend (mug shot TCSO)|
Also appearing February 7th is Rusty Porter's uncle, Robert Lee Campbell. Campbell is the alleged mastermind in the double homicide's. Court documents allege that he offered "consideration" to one or more defendant's who accepted the offer and carried out the murders. He is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and it is expected that the public defender's office will step out of the case since he recently posted a half million dollar bond.
Sources close to the investigation confirm that Campbell's wife is Tony Friend's sister, and that Tony Friend is suffering from kidney cancer and that he only has one kidney. It is unclear if Friend did not appear at his hearing last week because he was too sick (a law enforcement source says Friend has been moved to a medical pod in Greene County) or if he had not been writted down from Greene County for his appearance.
|Robert Lee Campbell (mug shot TCSO)|
Windy Friend, Tony's wife, will make her next appearance on March 21st. She is charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit murder and it is expected that her attorney will ask the court to mover her case as well.
|Windy Friend (TCSO)|
A change of venue is automatically granted to a defendant when one is requested in a county with less than 75,000 residents.
Taney County prosecutor Jeff Merrell says he still has not made a decision on whether he will seek the death penalty against any of the defendants at this point as attorney's are still gathering discovery. "The rule is that I have to make that determination within a reasonable amount of time prior to trial and we are no where near setting trial dates in any of the cases."