4 men charged in New Year's killing in Arkansas

Posted: February 28, 2018 at 4:30 a.m.

Four Johnson County men were charged Tuesday with first-degree murder in the New Year's Eve shooting death of Vernice "Duwane" Ledbetter.

Zachary Aaron Geels, Phillip Andrew Raible, Isaac Taylor Marcus Vaughn, and Brian Anthony White have been charged.

Prosecuting Attorney David Gibbons said he provided two alternative first-degree murder counts for each person charged. One charge involves intentionally causing the death of another person. The alternative charge involves causing death while committing a felony, in this case kidnapping.

Gibbons said the four men will be arraigned Thursday before Circuit Judge William Pearson.

Ledbetter's body was found Jan. 22 in a remote area north of Hagarville.

"The body had been burned," according to an affidavit from an Arkansas State Police investigator. "It appeared the body had at least two gunshot wounds."

In a telephone conversation Dec. 31, Ledbetter told his wife he was with White in a pickup "going up on the mountain to get more firewood," according to the affidavit for Geels' arrest.

But something changed at a bonfire shortly afterward.

Vaughn told police that Geels "put Ledbetter on the ground," according to the affidavit.

"They took his phone and started going through it and found 'cop stuff,'" according to the court document.

Metro on 02/28/2018