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Prosecutors waive death penalty for suspect in Rhoads murder case

Published: Jun. 4, 2021 at 8:46 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 4, 2021 at 10:55 PM CDT
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HARRISBURG, Ark. (KAIT) - Prosecutors have waived the death penalty for a Poinsett County man accused of killing and robbing an elderly man in April 2020, according to court records.

The waiver was filed in Poinsett County Circuit Court for Jordan Alexander Ratton, 19, of Marked Tree.

Ratton and Cameron Wray, also 19 of Marked Tree, were arrested in May 2020 on suspicion of capital murder and aggravated robbery in the death of Mack Rhoads.

On May 12, the sheriff’s office along with Arkansas State Police and the Marked Tree Police...
On May 12, the sheriff’s office along with Arkansas State Police and the Marked Tree Police Department, arrested 19-year-old Jordan Ratton and 18-year-old Cameron Wray, both of Marked Tree, on suspicion of capital murder and aggravated robbery.(Poinsett Co. Sheriff's Office)

At a May 2020 hearing in the case, authorities released details about the murder and an interview they had with Wray on May 12 at a house in Marked Tree.

Wray told authorities that he and Ratton were driving around in Ratton’s 2019 Dodge Ram and had been drinking whiskey on that day.

Wray said he was driving Ratton’s vehicle when he was told to pull into a nearby baseball park between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. that night. They pulled into the park and Ratton picked up a tire tool from a truck, authorities said.

“Wray stated that Ratton stated to him that he was going to rob Mack Rhoads inside Rhoads’ residence,” authorities said.

Ratton wore a black ski mask, gloves and a black sweatshirt when he carried the tire tool and black electrical tape into the house, Wray said at the time.

“Wray stated that when Ratton returned to the vehicle, Ratton was covered in blood,” police said. “Wray stated that Ratton was holding some bottles of liquor. Wray stated that Ratton was also carrying two pistols and the tire tool.”

Wray also said that Ratton went to an area near the St. Francis River to burn the clothes. Wray then told authorities that both he and Ratton threw the pistols into the river. However, there was some question on the issue when a photograph emerged.

“After being questioned about the photograph, Wray stated that he had previously lied and that he took one of the pistols and Ratton took the other one. Wray said he tried to sell it, but was unsuccessful so he and Ratton went back to the river a few weeks later and threw the pistols into the river,” authorities said.

ORDER FILED

According to a May 27 order filed in the case, defense attorneys for Ratton requested a series of motions in the case.

Some of them include a motion to allow individual sequestered questioning of jurors, a motion to prohibit submission to the jury of the aggravating circumstances for monetary gain during the penalty phase of the trial and motion to require a pretrial judicial review of all victim impact evidence that prosecutors intend to introduce at sentencing.

The victim impact evidence motion was granted, with the other motions set to be heard closer to trial.

A motion and plea day for Wray is set for July 7, with a trial set for July 19-22.

Ratton is scheduled to go on trial Sept. 20-Oct. 1, with a pre-trial set for Aug. 23.

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