A preliminary court hearing will be held April 30 in Wayne County, Mo., in the recent killing of a 16-year-old student at a Baptist boarding school for troubled youths.
Wayne County Associate Judge Randy P. Schuller set the date at a brief hearing Thursday in Greenville, Mo. Schuller also assigned a public defender for Anthony G. Rutherford, 18, of Siloam Springs, Ark., who is charged with first-degree murder.
Rutherford and two 15-year-old fellow students were arrested on March 25, shortly after deputies found the body of William A. Futrelle II, of Boca
Raton, Fla., outside the boys' dormitory at the Mountain Park Baptist Church and Boarding School. The private school is on 165 acres near the St. Francis River in Wayne County, about 110 miles south of St. Louis.
The preliminary hearing will determine whether prosecutors have enough evidence against Rutherford to warrant taking the case to trial. Rutherford is not expected to enter a plea until then.
Futrelle's throat was slashed, and he had been beaten on the head. A Highway Patrol investigator said he was killed when a small group of students feared he would expose their plan to take over the school and get onto national television.
Rutherford has been in the Wayne County jail since March 25. Steve White, the assistant public defender assigned to his case, said Rutherford qualified because he is 18 and does not support himself.
White said no one from Rutherford's family attended the hearing. Rutherford's father is the chief administrative judge of Benton County, Ark.
Juvenile authorities have proposed that Wayne County Circuit Court have one of the 15-year-olds stand trial for murder as an adult but that the other stay in the juvenile system on a lesser charge of concealing a crime. A hearing had been scheduled for Thursday in Greenville on those issues, but no public action was taken.
The Rev. Bobby Wills and his wife, Betty, have operated the school since 1987. Its enrollment is about 200 females and 30 males.
On Tuesday, the school paid $11,036 in delinquent property taxes and penalties due last Dec. 31. The school didn't protest the county's decision to return it to the tax roll for last year.