8:45 AM

One of two brothers charged with murder last November in Howell County has been sentenced to life in prison as prior and persistent offender for the death of 22 year-old Ricky Joe Johnson of Pottersville.

Twenty-three year old Jared "Skip" Graven (a.) pleaded guilty to reduced charges of voluntary manslaughter, tampering with a motor vehicle and abandonment of a corpse in Texas county where the case was moved on a change of venue from.

Jared "Skip" Graven was originally charged with first-degree murder, tampering with a motor vehicle, arson and abandonment of a corpse.

Investigators found Ricky Johnson's body in the back seat of his car, inside a burning garage on the property of a rural West Plains farmhouse that was undergoing renovation after a passerby called in the fire.

Prosecutors say that a fight over methamphetamine led to Johnson's death. Court documents indicate that Ricky J. Johnson was at the home of Jared Graven and his brother Jonnathan (b.) late in the evening of November 14th and the early morning hours of November 15th, 2008.

In the probable cause statement, investigators say that Johnson was under the influence of prescription medication when he went to lay down in the bedroom of Jared Graven. The document goes on to state that while Johnson was sleeping the Graven brothers stole meth out of the pockets of Johnson's pants and vehicle.

When Johnson awoke he confronted the Graven brothers about the missing drugs and a fight broke out in which Johnson was "hit and stomped" by the Graven brothers, causing his death.

Investigator Shannon Caldwell writes in his report that after placing Johnson's body in the young mans newly purchased car, Jared Graven drove Johnson's vehicle to a rural Howell County farmhouse.

Once there authorities say the brothers parked the vehicle in the garage and torched it.

When officers served a search warrant on the residence of the Gravens at 3823 County Road 6340 near West Plains on November 18th, they noticed that there was no bed in Jared Gravens bedroom, and that there was fresh paint in different rooms in the house, as well as new linoleum and carpet in different parts of the house.

During that search investigators seized several articles that appeared to have blood evidence on them.

Cops finally caught up with the brothers at the Tally Ho Motel in Thayer on November 19th. Court documents say that during a search of the room and a pick-up truck the Graven's were driving, "blood evidence was located and collected from the inside of the vehicle."

Jonnathan Graven's second degree murder trial is scheduled to begin in September in Butler County where it was moved on a change of venue.