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Nick Charles Stoicu, left, and Joseph Oliah Hals Brown, right, are being held in Polk County jail waiting extradition to Logan County Arkansas for, among other charges, 1st Degree Murder.

Polk County Men Plead Not Guilty to Murder in Logan County Court

BY MELANIE BUCK –

Two Polk County men charged with 1st Degree Murder pled not guilty in Logan County Circuit Court on Friday, May 1, in connection with the death of Booneville resident, Ritchie Lee Lynch.

Lynch was found dead in his home in Booneville on April 6, 2015 from multiple gunshot wounds. Nick Charles Stoicu, age 39, and Joseph Oliah Hals Brown, age 32, both of Polk County have been charged with 1st Degree Murder, Aggravated Robbery, and Possession of a Firearm by Certain Persons, as well as, Habitual Offenders. Their bond has been set at $2 million dollars each. The men were assigned a public defender who waived formal arraignment and entered the pleas of not guilty for both defendants.

According to a statement released by Logan County Sheriff’s Department, “both subjects are being held at different detention facilities in two different counties for increased security and public safety.”

The two were arrested in Polk County after a multi-agency investigation that included local city and county, as well as surrounding counties, and state agencies.

According to records, Robert Allen Lee Melton, age 51, was questioned regarding the murder and told investigators that on the night of April 2, 2015, Brown, Stoicu, himself, and two women, Teresa Lynn Bennett and Dave Ann Townsend, traveled to the residence of Lynch in a moroon SUV with the intent of robbing Lynch of his money and drugs.

Melton said that after parking the SUV down the road from the Lynch residence in a wooded area that had been cleared, the three men walked to Lynch’s home while the women stayed in the vehicle.

According to Melton, he kept watch at the gate of the residence while Brown and Stoicu went into the home where Stoicu carried a rifle and Brown carried a handgun. Melton said after a few minutes he heard someone yell and then heard around four gunshots after which, Brown and Stoicu came outside carrying a black bag and told Melton they had shot Lynch and “left him lying there.”

After returning the the vehicle, the group traveled to a residence in Waldron where Brown and Stoicu broke down the guns they had allegedly used before offereing Melton $800 cash and 17 grams of methamphetamine for his part in the activity. Melton stated that he declined the offer.

Bennett was also questioned by investigators and said that she had shown the others where Lynch lived and that when the trio of men returned to the SUV from Lynch’s residence that the men had stated that “it had gone bad.”

On April 3, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office arrested Brown on charges of Possesion of a Schedule VI Controlled Substance, Possession of a Schedule I/II Controlled Substance, Possession of a Schedule I/II Substance Not Meth or Cocaine, Possession Drug Paraphernailia, Theft of a Vehicle, Breaking or Entering and Violation of a Suspended Imposition of Sentence.

Stoicu was arrested by Polk County Sheriff’s Deputies on April 9, for charges of Possession of Meth or Cocaine with Purpose to Deliver, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and Simultaneous Possession of Drugs and Firearms.

In a previous release by Logan County Sheriff Boyd D. Hicks, he said, “The investigation is ongoing and additional arrests could be made at a later date.

*All persons within this article are to be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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