April 14, 2022
No video or audio recordings will be allowed at James Phelps' hearing tomorrow in Dallas County.
Phelps, and his alleged accomplice Timothy Norton, are facing charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping, and abandonment of a corpse in connection to the murder of Cassidy Rainwater-Paul last summer at a cabin on Moon Valley Road in rural Dallas County.
Judge John Porter may take up a motion at tomorrow's hearing that was filed by Phelps' attorney, Tom Jacquinot, to dismiss the abandonment of a corpse charges against his client. Jacquinot's argument is that his client had a right not to self-incriminate himself in the crime. Dallas County prosecutor Jonathan Barker says Phelps could have called in a tip about where to find Cassidy's remains anonymously.
Porter is also expected to make a ruling on a motion filed by Dallas County prosecutor Jonathan Barker asking that a new preliminary hearing date be scheduled as one of the state's witnesses will not be able to appear for the June 3rd hearing, nearly 11-months after Cassidy was murdered.
Timothy Norton is due to appear in court again on April 26th with Dallas County associate circuit court judge Lisa Henderson. He will be formally arraigned in circuit court following the written waiver of his preliminary hearing earlier this year. Henderson has ruled that Norton must appear in person at the April 26th hearing.
UPDATE-April 15, 2022: James Phelps' new preliminary hearing date has been scheduled for July 14, 2022, at 9 a.m. in Dallas County. Phelps appeared in person and no other motions were taken up in court at today's hearing.
In August of 2021, a relative reported Cassidy missing and said she was last seen at a DFS meeting in Lebanon in early July.
The FBI passed along a cyber-tip with photographs labeled "Cassidy" to Dallas County investigators on September 16, 2021.
Phelps was arrested on September 16, 2021. Timothy Norton, who referred to Phelps as his "brother," was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping Cassidy in late September as he was leaving a Walmart in Lebanon.
Dallas County prosecutor Jonathan Barker said in a court hearing last year that Norton and Phelps would troll for victims online and at Walmart's.
It would take authorities two more months to add murder charges against the pair for Cassidy's death. Pictures on Phelps' phone allegedly show a partially nude Cassidy being held in a cage and tortured within the cabin at 386 Moon Valley Road and tied to a gantry crane outside, where she was disemboweled.
Norton told investigators that Phelps communicated with him on July 24, 2021, and asked him to come to the cabin to help subdue Cassidy. He told investigators that he held her legs down while Phelps put a bag over her head and strangled her.
Court documents say Norton told investigators that he helped Phelps carry Cassidy outside to a gantry crane, and then back to the bathtub in the cabin where she was dismembered.
Investigators found bags of Cassidy's flesh inside a freezer in the cabin. The bags were dated 7/24 and had her initials on them. Cassidy's ex-boyfriend says he, and the children they shared, were swabbed for DNA and that's how her remains were identified.
Dallas County Sheriff Scott Rice says Norton and Phelps had been planning Cassidy's murder for a couple of months.
In early October of 2021, the cabin on Moon Valley Road burned to the ground. The fire has been ruled arson and there have been no arrests made in connection to that incident.
Sources say there was only one bathtub in the cabin. A bathtub was in the fire rubble after the blaze. Whether or not it is the bathtub that Cassidy was dismembered in is not known at this time.
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