FAYETTEVILLE -- Travis Trustin pleaded guilty to capital murder Monday and received a life sentence without possibility of parole.
"Do you understand that life without parole means exactly what it says?" Washington County Circuit Judge Mark Lindsay asked Trustin at a 9 a.m. change of plea hearing. Trustin, 26, of 3325 S. School Ave. replied he did.
Trustin appeared at the hearing by video from the Washington County Detention Center.
Also attending by video link was the father of Chase Reel, 21, the murder victim. Lindsay expressed his condolences to Reel's family and hoped the sentence would bring them some measure of closure.
Reel died during a burglary by Trustin at Reel's home at 2518 W. Cornerstone Place.
Trustin agreed to a plea bargain to avoid the risk of receiving the death penalty at trial according to his attorney, Chris Nebben.
Reel, roommate Jacob Hogue and others went bowling with Hogue arriving back home first about 1 a.m. on Oct. 3, 2020. Hogue found Trustin burglarizing the apartment, Prosecuting Attorney Matt Durrett said after the hearing. Trustin held Hogue at gunpoint for about 30 minutes, Durrett said. This resulted in a kidnapping charge Trustin also pleaded guilty to. He received a 40-year prison sentence for the kidnapping.
Trustin used a pistol he found at the residence in the kidnapping, Durrett said. Neither Hogue nor Reel had ever met Trustin before, he said.
Reel returned home and confronted Trustin. Reel went to his bedroom and got a rifle. Trustin then shot Reel. At the same time an onlooker was calling 911 and said he heard a shot.
Hogue then struggled with Tristan, and the several shots were fired, but no one else was hit, according to the report. Tristan ran after losing the gun in the struggle and was tackled by onlookers who held him for police.
Trustin declined to make a statement at the sentencing hearing. Additional charges related to the murder, such as aggravated residential burglary, were dropped in the plea bargain.