3 suspects charged with murder

Robert Smith rsmith@pawhuskajournalcapital.com
Daniel Joseph Keene

Three suspects have been formally charged in the killing of John Dustin Adkins earlier this month.

Osage County prosecutors charged Maurice Prentiss Kent, 37, Toby Larue Bighorse, 29, and Daniel Joseph Keene, 24, with murder in the first degree or, in the alternative, murder in the second degree. The suspects were arraigned Oct. 26, and the court entered pleas of not guilty for each of them.

Prosecutors requested and the court set bail for all three at $5 million each in the murder case.

The case stems from an incident reported to have taken place Oct. 1, along County Road 4201, north of Pawhuska. The incident was initially reported to the Pawhuska Police Department. Sheriff Eddie Virden said the Pawhuska police asked the Sheriff’s Office for help Oct. 17.

According to an affidavit, Sheriff’s Office personnel on Oct. 18 located the remains of John Dustin Adkins just off County Road 4201 in an open field near the place where a confrontation allegedly had taken place. County Road 4201 is the extended portion of what is Grandview Avenue in Pawhuska, as the road runs out in the direction of the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve.

The Sheriff’s Office affidavit explains that officers were initially told that Kent and Adkins became involved in a conflict and that Kent had used “a folding blade knife” to inflict cutting injuries to one of Adkins’ arms. This conflict reportedly took place while Adkins and the three defendants were riding toward a residence on County Road 4201 to meet with someone.

Kent had become involved with Adkins in Fairfax and was supposed to be helping him make arrangements to move personal items out of a residence there, from which he had been evicted.

Sheriff’s Office personnel also learned that Bighorse hit Adkins in the head with the blunt side of a “throwing hatchet,” according to the affidavit.

During further investigation — specifically, during an interview with Bighorse — the Sheriff’s Office learned the three defendants allegedly had a conversation about Adkins just having been paid, and they “decided to drive him out to the remote location and rob him.”

Kent reportedly stopped the vehicle he was driving, got out with a folding knife in his hand, opened the back door where Adkins was sitting and ordered him out of the vehicle. A fight reportedly broke out between the two men and Kent began stabbing Adkins on one side, under an arm. Adkins “was able to gain control of Kent on the ground and was on top of him,” according to the S.O. affidavit.

At that point, fearing Kent would get hurt, Bighorse allegedly grabbed a hatchet from the vehicle and hit Adkins on one side of his head with the blunt or back side of the hatchet. Then, while Adkins was hurt and on the ground, Kent “continued to stab Adkins.”

The defendants took Adkins’ wallet and cell phone, according to the affidavit.

Bighorse was also arraigned Oct. 26 on felony charges of distribution of a controlled dangerous substance (methamphetamine) and writing bogus checks.