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Two of the four men charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Vernice "Duwayne" Ledbetter, 29, of Johnson County, have pleaded guilty, said Bruce Wilson, the deputy prosecuting attorney in the case.

Isaac Taylor Vaughn, 21, entered his plea on Friday, and Brian Anthony White, 22, entered his plea late last year, Wilson said. He said both men pleaded guilty to first-degree murder.

Wilson said they won't be sentenced until after the trial or pleadings of the other two men charged in the case -- Zachary Aaron Geels and Phillip Andrew Raible, both 30 years old.

Geels and Raible are scheduled to stand trial in late June, Wilson said.

Ledbetter was reported missing on New Year's Day 2018. His 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, 2017, 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.

Vaughn told police Raible and Geels tied Ledbetter's hands together with wire. They forced Ledbetter into the pickup and took him to another location, according to the affidavit.

"Vaughn said Ledbetter was 'pistol whipped' and that White walked up to him and shot Ledbetter five times," according to the affidavit.

White told police Vaughn shot Ledbetter, according to the affidavit.

Wilson said all four men were liable accomplices in the homicide even if only one of them pulled the trigger.

Metro on 01/08/2019

Print Headline: 2 plead guilty in killing of Arkansas man found dead weeks after being reported missing

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