Life without parole for man who ‘confessed’ to killing 2 women

Sheriff: ‘Most heinous crime I’ve seen’
Published: Mar. 2, 2021 at 4:04 PM CST
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CHEROKEE VILLAGE, Ark. (KAIT) - A Cherokee Village man was sentenced Tuesday, March 2, in a double homicide investigation last fall.

Sharp County Sheriff Mark Counts said Charles Paul Stovall, 24, negotiated a plea deal and pled guilty to 2 counts of capital murder and one count of 1st-degree battery.

The prosecuting attorney was originally working to seek the death penalty.

Sheriff Counts said the deal was reached on Feb. 25 and after speaking with the families, Circuit Judge Rob Patton accepted it.

“Most heinous crime I’ve seen in my 24 years in law enforcement,” Sheriff Counts said.

According to a sentencing order from the Sharp County 3rd Judicial District 1st Division, Stovall will spend life without parole for both capital murder charges.

He was also sentenced to 240 to 600 months in prison for the battery charge.

Both charges for abuse of a corpse, a charge for aggravated residential burglary, 2 charges for breaking or entering and a charge for theft of property were all Nolle Prossed.

Back on Oct. 21, 2020, a judge found probable cause to charge a man with capital murder after sheriff’s investigators say he confessed to killing two people.

Charles Paul Stovall, 24, of Cherokee Village appeared Oct. 21 before Third Judicial Circuit Judge Harold Erwin in the Sharp County Courthouse.

Erwin found probable cause existed to charge Stovall with two counts of capital murder, two counts of abuse of a corpse, battery in the first degree, aggravated residential burglary, two counts of breaking or entering, and theft of property, according to our content partner Areawide Media.

Stovall remained in the Sharp County Jail without bond awaiting his arraignment.

Sharp County Sheriff Mark Counts said during the weekend of Oct. 17-18, Stovall killed 23-year-old Hayleigh Gruger at her home on Warpath Drive and 72-year-old Linda Janny at her home on Lakeshore Drive. Their bodies have been sent to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory in Little Rock for autopsy.

He’s also suspected in the stabbing of Debra Compton on FM Road in Highland.

During an interview with Counts and Chief Deputy Aaron Presser on Monday, Stovall reportedly “confessed to the homicides and to injuring the third victim.”

Stovall, according to court documents, is on active parole in Pulaski County as of early August. Counts said he did not know how Stovall got to Cherokee Village.

“All of them have a family and I know they’re suffering right now and my heart goes out to them," Counts said. "It’s nice to know he’s in jail and that he won’t be out hurting anybody else.”

Editor’s Note: A previous version of the story incorrectly stated the families were seeking the death penalty instead of the prosecutor. We regret the error.

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