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Death penalty sought in double-murder case

– Prosecutors will seek the death penalty now that a plea deal is no longer being considered in the murder cases of two Southern Indiana teens accused of brutally killing a Harrison County couple.

A plea deal offered in October would have given suspects Kevin Andrew “Drew” Schuler and Austin Scott life in prison without parole in exchange for their guilty pleas.

But attorneys for both young men told Harrison Superior Court Judge Roger Davis during short hearings Friday that they weren’t ready to accept the plea deal.

Harrison County Prosecutor Otto Schalk told Davis he plans to file information seeking the death penalty in the cases after neither defendant accepted plea deals by Friday’s deadline.

“We are filing for the death penalty,” Schalk told the Courier-Journal of Louisville, Ky., in an interview afterward, noting formal charging information will be filed by the middle of next week.

Scott’s attorneys, Chris Sturgeon and co-counsel Amie Newlon, are both certified to handle death penalty cases.

“We believe there’s more investigation we have to do on his behalf,” Sturgeon said as to why they didn’t accept the plea deal.

Judge Davis agreed Friday to push back the March 31 trial start date, but no other date has been scheduled. He also granted Sturgeon’s request to file “ex-parte” motions, ones that don’t have to be revealed to prosecutors.

Schuler, of Greenville, and Scott, of New Albany, each face two counts of murder in the deaths of Gary Henderson, 70, and Asenath “Senie” Arnold, 57.

After killing Gary Henderson – he was stabbed 23 times – and stealing handguns and other items, the pair told police, they returned a short time later hoping to bag more stolen goods when they realized someone else was alive inside the house, Harrison County Sheriff Rod Seelye said.

They heard a woman call out for Henderson and then stormed into Arnold’s bedroom and bludgeoned her to death, Seelye previously told the Courier-Journal.

Arnold, who used a wheelchair, was found in bed, her skull crushed, Harrison County Coroner Rusty Sizemore said.

“It was brutal, absolutely brutal,” Sizemore previously said. “I think I’ve seen things, but this is the worst.”

Both men also face burglary and theft charges and police have accused the pair with stealing weapons, cash, credit cards and prescription medication.

Schalk said Friday after the hearings he wanted to give the defendants the opportunity to accept a plea deal before proceeding with the lengthy discovery process of death-penalty trials.

“You reserve the death penalty for the worst cases,” Schalk said.