Grant Co. Man Sentenced to Life in Prison in Sheridan Teen's Murder

SHERIDAN, Ark. - A Grant County man has been sentenced to life in prison in the shooting death of a Sheridan teen.

Rusty Draper pleaded guilty Wednesday to First Degree Murder. 

Draper admitted during his plea that he lied to the police when he said he went to work on January 19, 2017, but went to a cemetery near the home where Austin Moody, 17, lived. 

Draper then told the court he drove to the home around 7 a.m. and shot Moody with his Smith & Wesson 686 .357 caliber revolver, and left his .410 shotgun at the scene. 

The State Crime Lab found Draper's DNA on the shotgun. 

"The exhaustive investigation of this murder by Lt. Robert Bird and Detective Sam Shepherd of the Grant County Sheriff’s Department, and Special Agent Drake Champagne of the Arkansas State Police was relentless and these gentlemen would not rest until the murderer was identified. The investigators used every resource available to them, including the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Remington Arms, the Union Pacific Police Department, the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory, and the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department to bring Rusty Draper to justice. The result of the investigation was a case file with overwhelming evidence of Rusty Draper’s guilt," said Teresa Howell, Prosecuting Attorney for the Seventh Judicial District of Arkansas in a news release on Draper's guilty plea.

After the sentencing, Moody's parents told Draper they hoped he would seek forgiveness and that their son would be an inspiration instead of an object of hate. 

The State of Arkansas was represented by Prosecuting Attorney Teresa Howell, Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Stephen Shirron, and Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Norman Frisby. The defendant’s attorneys were Blake Hendrix and Annie Depper of Little Rock. 

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