Two teenagers accused of murdering an elderly couple in Stone County were formally arraigned in Associate Circuit Court and have pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder charges.
Within minutes of Juvenile Court Judge Alan Blankenship ruling that Christopher James Allen and Anthony Joseph Zarro would stand trial as adults for the January murders of Paul Brian and Margaret Susan Brooks, Prosecutor Matt Selby filed charges against Allen and Zarro.
Allen, 16, of Nashville, Tennessee and Zarro, 17, of Spring, Texas are each charged with two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of armed criminal action, two counts of robbery and one count of burglary.
“There was no evidence that the juvenile would benefit from treatment in a juvenile facility. Given the seriousness and particularly violent and vicious nature of the offenses, the age of the juvenile and the limited time for rehabilitating someone who is charged with these particular offenses, and the fact that no evidence was adduced to demonstrate the availability of a facility which could guarantee the juvenile’s confinement, it is apparent that there are no reasonable prospects for rehabilitation,” Blankenship wrote in the certification decision.
Zarro had been raised in a drug riddled home and was physically abused by his biological mother, according to evidence presented at his certification hearing. He had been in and out of the foster care system from the age of 4 until he was adopted by Melody and Michael Zarro, Jr. He had been in trouble for a burglary in Texas and spent two-and-a-half years at Azleway Boys Ranch in Tyler, Texas, and another two-and-a-half years at LUC in Lampe prior to the Brookses homicides.
It appears that Allen had little to no criminal history prior to the murders. He had been at LUC for about two years, according to court documents.
In the newly filed probable cause statement that accompanied the state charges, Stone County Detective Matt Maggard wrote that the boys had run away from the Lives Under Construction Boys Ranch near Lampe on January 29th.
Court documents say that LUC contacted authorities on January 31st to report that the window to an office door and been broken.
“The reporting party stated nothing was stolen from the office but believed the suspects were looking for the keys to the Boys Ranch vehicles, which were removed from the office after Anthony and Christopher had ran away,” the statement says.
Maggard says the Brookses had been gone for the majority of the day and returned to their son's lakefront home at 1722 Trace Hollow Road in Lampe about 4:30 following a doctor's appointment in Springfield.
An alert neighbor of the Brookses noticed the couples 2007 Saturn parked at the home of nearby neighbor's John and Holly Martin's house at 1712 Trace Hollow Road.
"The neighbor then observed Anthony and Christopher carrying items out of the Martin's residence and placing them in to Paul and Margaret's vehicle." The neighbor then observed one suspect drive back to the Brookses residence while the other suspect walked back.
The neighbor, who believed the boys were burglarizing the couple, called authorities about 5:43 p.m. and held them at gunpoint until authorities arrived.
When deputies arrived on scene they asked them if anyone else was in the house. “Anthony stated to Deputies that two other people were inside, and stated...I killed them, I beat them with a baseball bat and stabbed them," according to the newly filed court documents.
Deputies believe the couple, who would have been married 50 years in July, were murdered in the kitchen of the home and their bodies dragged to a bedroom where they were found deceased.
There was also evidence that someone had attempted to clean the crime scene. At the certification hearings for the teens last week, Detective Brian Landreth said bloody rags had been found in a bedroom trashcan and bloody clothes were discovered in a washing machine.
When the teens were searched, they both had credit and debit cards belonging to the victims, according to the probable cause statement.
When authorities searched the Brookses car, they found wooden bedpost in the backseat of the vehicle that appeared to have blood stains on it "from being used as a weapon." That bedpost was apparently taken from the Martin residence, according to Maggard's written statement.
The investigation of the Martin's residence revealed over $750 worth of damage to the interior of the home.
On February 7th, Becky Hamilton, an investigator with the Department of Social Services, interviewed Anthony Zarro. Zarro allegedly told her that he and Allen "were responsible for breaking into the office building at the LUC Boys Ranch" and were looking for keys to a vehicle they could steal.
The preliminary hearings for Zarro and Allen have both been scheduled for May 29th.