The Marion County Courthouse at Hannibal was on a high state of alert Monday morning, as second-degree murder suspects Michael Alan Studer and Gary James Wiltermood III made their first in-person appearances following the Oct. 8 murder of Adrienne Arnett.
Officers of the court kept the door to the courtroom locked until Studer and Wiltermood were seated beside their attorneys. Once inside the courtroom, Judge John J. Jackson warned the murder victim's supporters that no outbursts would be tolerated.
That said, the court session began.
Wiltermood, via his attorney, waived his preliminary hearing, and his arraignment in Circuit Court was set for 9:30 a.m. Nov. 18 at the Marion County Courthouse in Hannibal.
Studer acknowledged that he was ready for his preliminary hearing to begin, and a slate of law enforcement officers were called to the stand to describe the crime scene and witness statements.
Cpl. J. Alex Grote said that when he arrived at the convenience store early on Oct. 8, the front doors to the store had been kicked in. He said a shelf had been knocked over, and cigarettes were scattered on the floor. The murder victim's body was right behind the front counter, he said. He checked for her pulse, and her hand twitched when he touched it. He started chest compressions and continued until EMS arrived shortly thereafter.
Marion County Coroner Darrell McCoy was next to testify, and stated that when he arrived, Mrs. Arnett "was obviously deceased." He pronounced her dead at 3:45 a.m. Oct. 8. "There was blood on her face and it was puddled around her head," McCoy said.
Det. Jacob Nacke testified that he interviewed Michael Studer at the Hannibal Police station on Oct. 8.
At first, Studer told the detective that he had a memory loss and didn't remember what happened on the day of the murder. "His demeanor changed during the interview," Nacke said, and on repeat occasions, Studer maintained that he did not kill Arnett. "On more than one occasion he said he never held a gun in his life." Later, however, he admitted his involvement, the detective said.
"He (Studer) started to cry and at one point he said 'Cowboy made me do it. He made me shoot her.'"
He later learned that "Cowboy" was a reference to Gary James Wiltermood III, the co-defendent.