Prosecution not sure of punishment to seek in Village 76 murder case

Paul Potter, 49, of Kirksville

Paul Potter, 49, of Kirksville, is accused of killing a fellow resident in the Village 76 complex.

The 74-year-old victim, who had become know locally as Jake Steadman, was found dead of multiple stab wounds with his arms missing.

Recent information in the case has made it possible for Adair County Prosecutor Matt Wilson to change the second-degree murder charge to first-degree and to add two additional charges.

With the charge now first-degree murder, it brings up the question of the death penalty, but Wilson told KTVO, no decision has been made whether to seek the death penalty in this case.

â??We have contacted the attorney general's office and the head of the public safety division and they will be assisting our office as we proceed through the charges and through the case and we will discuss with them if the proper factors exist to even seek the death penalty and if we get to that point then that will be a decision that we will come together with the attorney general's office,â?? said Wilson.

Wilson says many things go into a decision to seek the death penalty, adding the graphic nature of this case could be factored into discussions concerning whether or not to seek the ultimate punishment.

â??There are several factors that the Supreme Court and the Missouri statute set forth in determining whether or not to even qualify for the death penalty and I guess with the way that the crime occurred brutality is one way to explain it I guess that is one factor that can be considered,â?? said Wilson.

Potter is expected to be in court on February 22 when he is scheduled to have a preliminary hearing in front of Adair County Associate Circuit Judge Kristie Swaim.

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