March 4th, 2008, 01:18 AM
Tyler Police have arrested a teenage girl and her boyfriend for conspiracy to commit murder, allegedly against the girl's foster father.
According to Donald Martin, Tyler Police public information officer, investigators received information that an 18-year-old girl and her 18-year-old boyfriend were conspiring to kill the girl’s foster father, identified as Dennis Rhoten, 4600 Paluxy Drive, in Tyler. After investigating, detectives located April Rhoten at Robert E. Lee High School, where she attends school, and took her into custody after interviewing her.
The boyfriend, James Neal Perkins of Tyler, was arrested at his workplace, Goodwill Industries, 409 W. Locust Street, at 8:54 a.m. Perkins was arrested on an outstanding warrant issued by Smith County Sheriff’s Department for threats made against Chapel Hill High School, where he attended school. Perkins is being held on a $100,000 bond.
Both subjects have been charged with conspiracy to commit murder, a second-degree felony.
December 11th, 2008, 12:12 AM
April Rhoten, 18, was sentenced to 18 years in prison for conspiracy to commit murder late Wednesday afternoon. The maximum sentence she could've received for the crime was 20 years. The trial for her boyfriend, James Neal Perkins, is scheduled to begin next week.
December 11th, 2008, 07:19 AM
Oh...if she got 18 years, it's looking very ugly for him.
She looks REALLY sorry (Yeah, as in "Sorry Ass Bitch") here
And he looks like he rode the short bus
And the boyfriend who was going to kill dear old dad. Well, he worked at Goodwill....how bright can he be? But she probably likes 'em stupid 'cause you can't get the bright ones to kill your dad for you.
She was going to become a stripper after the murder??? WHOA 'HOE....what a plan! You kinda homely for a stripper.
April “Suzanne” Rhoten was found guilty today of plotting to kill her father.
The 18-year-old Tyler woman was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder by an eight-woman, four-man jury in 241st District Judge Jack Skeen Jr.’s court after about 15 minutes of deliberation.
The murder plot allegedly planned by Ms. Rhoten and her boyfriend James Neal Perkins, 19, was discovered by Ms. Rhoten’s older sister Amber, who saw text messages discussing the plan that had been sent between the two.
The jurors listened to two recorded interviews Ms. Rhoten gave police, in which she confessed to wanting to kill her adopted father Dennis Rhoten because he was the reason he and her mother were divorced and claimed he wouldn’t let her see or talk to her mother. She also claimed she was angry with him because he didn’t want her to be with Perkins, although she said he never met the man, and he wouldn’t let her live on her own.
Ms. Rhoten told police they planned to use a knife to cut her father’s throat while he slept and said if Perkins wouldn’t kill her dad, she thought she could do it herself.
Police found notes in the woman’s bedroom, including tips on how to commit the crime, get rid of the body and avoid capture. The teenager said she researched it on a computer in the Robert E. Lee High School library.
Dennis Rhoten testified he was in shock and disbelief when he discovered the text message his daughter sent to Perkins that asked him when he planned to kill her dad. He said he now believes his daughter would have let Perkins kill him and he is scared of her.
During closing arguments, Assistant District Attorney Guy Conine said there was absolutely no doubt Ms. Rhoten was conspiring with Perkins to kill her father. He said it was tough for the father to have to deal with, he didn’t know what to do and he didn’t turn her into police. After she was arrested, Rhoten cried as he tried to ask Ms. Rhoten about the threatening text message and she wouldn’t answer him, Conine said. The father became convinced she would carry out the plan to kill him, he said.
Detectives continually asked the defendant if there was any other way to solve her problems besides killing her dad and coldly she said no, she wanted him dead, Conine said.
“I ask that you set your emotions aside and look at the evidence that was presented to you” and whether the case was proved beyond a reasonable doubt, defense attorney Clifton Roberson told the jurors. He said Ms. Rhoten sent text messages to Perkins but there was no evidence Perkins responded to them or that he agreed with Ms. Rhoten to kill her father.
Roberson asked the jurors to apply their common sense and said neither of the defendants had a driver’s license so Perkins would have had no way of getting over to Rhoten’s house to kill him. He said the jurors must also use their common sense about a note Ms. Rhoten had written about her becoming a stripper to make money to getaway after the murder and whether Ms. Rhoten could make money as a stripper.
Ms. Rhoten told police she was going to use a kitchen knife to kill her father but police found a switchblade knife in the girl’s room instead. He said his client told police she wanted her father dead but not if he remarried her mother and they all lived together again.
Roberson said the prosecutors failed to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt and the only verdict the jury could come back with was not guilty.
“What I care about is that Dennis and Amber Rhoten can get a good night sleep tonight,” Assistant District Attorney Joe Murphy said, adding that the conspiracy did not have to be a good plan or to be carried out for her to be guilty.
He said it was OK for the jurors to be emotional.
“It’s OK that your heart breaks for Dennis Rhoten and it should,” he said. “You take a little girl and raise her as your own and she wants to kill you and you are afraid of her.”
He said the only evidence Ms. Rhoten could not get around was her own words. In two recorded interviews with police, she told them she had asked Perkins to help her kill her father and he agreed.
“That was about as cold and emotionless as you can see a human being,” Murphy said, referring to the recorded interviews. “She’s not mad; she’s mean.” She told police she had discussed with Perkins how they were going to slit her father’s throat while he slept, then how they were going to dispose of the body and avoid getting captured, he said.
A text message she sent to Perkins stated, “When you are you planning to kill my dad?” which means there was already a plan in place, Murphy said.
He said Ms. Rhoten told police it makes her happy to think about killing somebody and she thinks it would “probably be really cool.” Murphy said her actions and her words told the jury exactly what Ms. Rhoten wanted to do and if her sister Amber wouldn’t have found the threat-ening text message, her father would be dead.
“Because it’s against the law to conspire to commit murder, Dennis Rhoten is alive,” he said. Ms. Rhoten can say she wanted her dad dead because he wouldn’t let her see her mother or be with Perkins but, Murphy said, Ms. Rhoten said it best when she told police “it would probably really cool.”
The punishment phase of the trial began after the guilty verdict. She could face 2 to 20 years in prison.
Perkins, who has also been charged with the conspiracy, awaits trial.
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