Jeff Merrell

Taney County Prosecutor Jeff Merrell says he will not seek the death penalty against three of four people facing charges connected to the 2011 murders of Becky and Rusty Porter.

The Porters (Becky lived the majority of her life in Stone County,) went missing from their home near Willard in April of 2011. Their skeletal remains were found three months later in rural Taney County on property that Tony Friend "was very familiar with."

Merrell says his office made the decision recently not to seek death penalty against Rusty Porters uncle, Robert Campbell, Windy Friend and Dusty Hicks.  If they are convicted of first-degree murder, the sentence would be life without the possibility of parole.  "In regards to Robert Campbell, his age is a factor that had to be considered when considering whether or not to seek the death penalty in his case," said Merrell.

When asked about his stance regarding Tony Friend he said, "We haven't made that determination yet....at this point, the death penalty is still on the table for Tony."

Rusty and Becky Porter

Tony Friend's son, Phillip, has already pleaded guilty to murder but he won't be sentenced until he testifies against others connected to the case for the state in accordance with a plea agreement.

All of the remaining defendants are facing two counts of first-degree murder.  In addition, Tony Friend and Hicks are facing felonious restraint and armed criminal action charges.

Windy Friend is scheduled to stand trial on March 24, 2014.  Dusty Hicks' trial is slated to begin on May 9, 2014; and Robert Campbell's trial is scheduled for October 16, 2014.

No trial date has been set for Tony Friend.  He is due back in court on October 31st.