A first-degree murder trial has been ordered in Osage County for the man and woman charged with the 2012 robbery-related slaying of Bartlesville resident Timothy Hauser.
Rusty Boyd Petty, 41, and Trysta Alberta Eileen Shaffer, 29, were bound over for trial early Monday afternoon following the second day of testimony at a preliminary hearing before Special Judge Stuart Tate.
A district court arraignment for the two defendants will be 1 p.m. Sept. 20 before Associate District Judge B. David Gambill, who is to preside over the trial, Tate said.
Petty and Shaffer, who also resided in Bartlesville, have been held on bonds of $1 million each since their arrests a few days after Hauser disappeared on Aug. 9 after leaving an Osage Casino located a few miles from Bartlesville. Hauser remained missing for nearly five months before his body was found late last year in a rural area of northeastern Osage County approximately five miles from the casino.
During the hearing, four law enforcement officers told about information Shaffer and Petty provided to investigators within a week of Hauser’s disappearance. Testimony indicated that both suspects admitted robbing their 61-year-old companion a short time after they left the casino.
Hauser reportedly was struck on the head, robbed and abandoned along a dead-end dirt road a few miles west of Bartlesville, said Assistant District Attorney Mike Fisher. A report from the state medical examiner’s office was submitted Monday as evidence in the case.
Investigator Ryan Hensley testified Monday that he arrested Petty on Aug. 15 at Bartlesville’s Jane Phillips Medical Center. The arrest, he said, was ordered by Osage County Sheriff Ty Koch. Hensley, who also works with the U.S. Marshal office, said he learned that Petty was at the hospital to be treated for anxiety.
Justin Kling, another OCSO investigator, said Petty had directed the officers to the scene of the attack as they were transporting him from the Bartlesville hospital to Pawhuska. Hauser’s identification papers, blood and a bottle believed used in the attack were recovered from the roadside site, officers said.
The hearing started last Thursday morning with testimony by two Osage County Sheriff’s Office investigators, John Ferguson and William Gee. It was continued to Monday due to the illness of Bartlesville attorney Glenn Davis, who has been representing Shaffer as the court-appointed counsel provided through the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System.
Pawhuska attorney Ron McGee was called in to serve as counsel for Shaffer at the preliminary hearing. Petty also is being defended by a court-appointed lawyer — L. Wayne Woodyard of Pawhuska, who is a member of the OIDS capital division.
At the conclusion of Monday’s testimony, Woodyard and McGee both asked the judge to consider dismissing the charge against their clients.
Woodyard said the early statements by Petty were made when his mental condition was affected by multiple factors. He pointed to a request for a lawyer reportedly made by Petty when the officers first began questioning him, as well as their failure to obtain an arrest warrant.
"Nothing has been presented (against Shaffer) with regard to the death, the only evidence is about robbery — a charge that the state has dismissed," McGee told the court. "Without that, you can’t get to the homicide."
Fisher responded by explaining that dismissal of the conjoint robbery charge was required because of previous court rulings which precluded the state from pursuing the felony murder case as well as the robbery charge.
"We cannot prosecute them for both," the assistant DA said.
Although the official cause of death for Hauser is listed as unknown on the medical examiner’s report, Fisher pointed out that more revealing information is contained in the document. Time of death is reported as being "consistent with the time of his disappearance," the prosecutor said.
Under "Type of death," the medical report on Hauser notes it as "violent, unusual or unnatural," said Fisher. Also, blunt force trauma to the victim’s head is specified, the prosecutor added.
Charged as an accessory in the original conjoint robbery case is another Bartlesville woman, 37-year-old Kathlene Renee Roland. She was arrested in October and waived a preliminary hearing in December. The status of her case is pending.