Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

May 3, 2012

Three murder cases set for May trials

TAHLEQUAH — Three men accused in unrelated Cherokee County murder cases are set for jury trials beginning later this month.

Robert Lee Smallen, William James Christopher Lewis, and Bronson William Butcher are tentatively set for trials beginning Monday, May 21.

Smallen, 60, is accused in the July 2007 shooting death of Ronny Hall. This would be his second trial on the accusations after jurors in 2009 deadlocked 10-2 and a mistrial was declared by District Judge Jeff Payton.

Prosecutors allege Smallen, of Muskogee, shot Hall after the two traveled to Horseshoe Bend in Park Hill, along with Daniel Prentice Thornburg.

Hall’s body was then dumped into the river, authorities said.

Thornburg allegedly told authorities later about the shooting and took them to Hall’s body. Then, in 2009, prosecutors began to suspect Thornburg was more involved in the shooting than they originally believed, and charged him with first-degree murder.

Thornburg has said he intends to invoke his right against self-incrimination and will not testify against Smallen during Smallen’s jury trial.

Court records show Smallen is represented by Tahlequah attorney Donn Baker.

Lewis, 37, of Park Hill, is accused in the 2010 death of Robert L. Audd, whose body was found with traumatic injuries and gunshot wounds several days after being reported as missing.

Investigators have said Lewis was renting a home from Audd, and killed Audd after a verbal argument over rent money.

Lewis has also been charged with breaking into Audd’s home, taking firearms and later stealing Audd’s vehicle.

Lewis is represented by Tasha Steward, with the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System.

Butcher, 28, was charged in the shooting death of Dane Frances Dunegan, 55.

Authorities allege Butcher shot Dunegan in the head and torso in March 2011.

Reports from the incident allege Butcher shot Dunegan over “bad dope,” and testimony indicated the two had been in an altercation before they went to the home where the shooting occurred.

Butcher is represented by Rex Earl Starr, of Stilwell.

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