Bentonville man found fit to stand trial in murder case
BENTONVILLE – A local circuit judge ruled on Monday that a Bentonville man was fit to stand trial for killing another man and possessing child pornography.
Judge Robin Green delivered the decision at a hearing in Glenn Thatcher’s criminal cases.
Thatcher, 44, is charged with capital murder and two counts of distributing, possessing or viewing articles describing sexually explicit conduct involving a child. He had previously pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Thatcher is accused of killing Robert Blau, whose body was found on February 1 in a Gateway building.
Police obtained a search warrant for Thatcher’s cell phone after his arrest in the murder case, and suspected child pornography was found on the phone, according to a probable cause affidavit.
Detectives from the Benton County Sheriff’s Office were given a warrant to examine the phone to corroborate Thatcher’s statements regarding the blackmail and extortion he claimed to have suffered from Blau prior to the murder, according to reports. court documents.
Examination of the cell phone revealed suspected images of child pornography involving children aged 6 to 9 and images of adolescents under the age of 17, court documents show.
Abigail Taylor, forensic examiner at Arkansas State Hospital, said in Monday’s hearing that she did Thatcher’s assessment and found he had no mental illness or defect and that he had the capacity to assist his lawyer in his defense.
She also determined that Thatcher had the ability to understand criminal conduct.
Taylor told Assistant District Attorney Joshua Robinson that Thatcher’s explanation for his conduct was rational and that he was more afraid of the alleged victim than incarceration. Taylor said she watched Thatcher’s interrogation and there was no indication that he was suffering from any mental illness or defect.
Taylor testified that Thatcher was diagnosed years ago with a depressive disorder and a history of drug use, but she didn’t believe those issues would stop Thatcher from helping in her defense.
Bill James, Thatcher’s attorney, withdrew his objection to the finding after Taylor testified. James told the judge he would maintain the defense of mental illness or fault.
Green asked Robinson if the death penalty was still on the table.
“I am not ready to waive the death penalty just yet,” Robinson said.
Green has scheduled an omnibus hearing for November 29.
Chelsea Yates, who was Thatcher’s roommate, told Bentonville Police that Thatcher told her he shot and killed Blau, according to the affidavit. Yates told officers Thatcher showed the pistol he claimed was used in the murder, according to the affidavit.
Bentonville Police provided the information to Benton County Sheriff’s Deputies, who went to 20147 US 62 at Gateway and found Blau’s body. Medics found a small gunshot wound in Blau’s chest, according to the affidavit.
Thatcher is being held without bond in the Benton County Jail.
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Glenn Thatcher, 44, of Bentonville faces a life sentence or the death penalty if convicted of capital murder. If convicted, he faces 3 to 10 years in prison for each of the two counts of distributing, possessing or viewing material depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a child.
Source: Benton County Circuit Court