A jury trial is expected to begin next week for a Del Rio, Texas, and former area resident accused of killing a Goodman resident in late May 2012.
The first-degree murder trial for Caleb A. Saddler, 29, will begin with jury selction Monday in McDonald County Circuit Court in Pineville. Presiding Judge Timothy Perigo will preside over the trial, expected to last five days. A total of 105 prospective jurors will be called, with 60 in the morning, 45 in the afternoon, according to electronic court records posted on Case.Net.
Acting on a tip, deputies found the charred body of 31-year-old Michael Smith of Goodman stuffed into a plastic barrel which had been filled and sealed with cement and rolled into a ravine on a Newton County farm near the intersection of Trout Farm Road and Impala Drive. The property purportedly belongs to a relative of Saddler’s. Smith had been shot once in the head with a handgun. A .45 caliber pistol, thought to be the murder weapon, was later recovered from a relative of Saddler’s in Granby.
According to the McDonald County Sheriff’s Department, unnamed witnesses say that Saddler shot Smith on the night of May 17-18 at a home about five miles west of Goodman on Route B, after the two got into an argument. Investigators say that Saddler then attempted to dispose of Smith’s body by burning it, placing it into the 55-gallon plastic container, filling the container with cement and dumping it in the Newton County ravine.
Saddler was arrested May 24, 2012, in Del Rio in connection with Smith’s murder, held for a day by Texas authorities, then brought back to McDonald County after waiving extradition.
A variety of witnesses have been subpoenaed, including Newton County Coroner Mark Bridges, area law enforcement agents and detectives, and members of Saddler’s family.
Saddler has lived in both Neosho and Granby and attended Neosho High School.