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Man's murder charge dropped

August 02, 2000

Man's murder charge dropped



By DAVE HUGHES / Arkansas Democrat-Gazette


PARIS , Ark. - Murder charges filed against a Hagerstown man in the shooting death of his cousin were dropped after Arkansas prosecutors said they needed time to investigate further.

Michael Sines, 22, of Hagerstown, was charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of his cousin, Robert Rutherford II, 23, also of Hagerstown.

Logan County, Ark., Deputy prosecutor Brian Mueller asked for the dismissal because the state wouldn't have been ready for trial on Aug. 17.

The charges were filed on Sept. 10, 1999, but Sines' attorney, Richard Lippard of Booneville, had requested two delays, which pushed the deadline back, Meuller said.

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Rutherford was shot in the back of the head with a .22-caliber pistol last August. He reportedly owned the pistol.

Sines was released on $100,000 bond in early March after the prosecutor's office amended the charge in February from capital murder to first-degree murder.

Mueller said the dismissal was sought to allow time for investigators to interview Sabrina Hartz, 19, of Hagerstown, who was unwilling to testify for the state until a month ago .

Arkansas State Police Investigator Cpl. David Hyden said Monday he made a tentative reservation to fly to Maryland to interview her.

Investigators learned Hartz drove Sines and Rutherford from Hagerstown to Dardanelle last August so Sines could visit his ex-girlfriend and son who live there.

Meuller said Hartz has information about the relationship between the cousins.

Meuller said he has a year to refile the murder charge against Sines.

Rutherford's remains were found in the woods of eastern Logan County after a nearby resident's dog carried a skull into the yard Sept. 7.

A search party found the rest of Rutherford's remains the next day in the woods about 500 feet from the house. Identification was found in a wallet in the pants pocket of the body.

Rutherford's brother, Lester Stambaugh, of Hagerstown, said the family had been notified by the prosecutor's office that the murder charge might be dropped.

"At first they charge him with capital murder, and now there's nothing?" he said.

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