One of the two people charged in the Big Piney murder of Keith Bridwell has pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with the state.
Lindsay Debault, of St. James, pleaded guilty Wednesday to Murder in the Second Degree and Burglary in the First Degree for her role in the August 2016 murder of Keith Bridwell in Big Piney.
Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney Kevin Hillman said, in a press release Thursday morning, that Debault's plea was part of a "negotiated agreement" where she has agreed to cooperate in the prosecution of Michael Talley.
Talley has been charged with Murder in the First Degree, Armed Criminal Action, Robbery in the First Degree, and Burglary in the First Degree, with trial set for August 2017. Debault is scheduled to be sentenced August 16, 2017, according to Hillman's press release.
Debault was charged in August of 2016 after being apprehended with Talley by Springfield Police Department after having been accused of trying to steal merchandise from a Home Depot. The two were identified as persons of interest in the shooting death of Keith Bridwell.
When Talley and Debault were initially arrested, an explosive device was discovered in their vehicle, along with additional explosive devices found during the execution of a search warrant.
Debault confessed to detectives that she was with Talley when Bridwell was killed, according to the probable cause statement filed last year.
“Debault told me her intentions were to commit a robbery for the money Bridwell still owed her,” the detective wrote in the probable cause statement.
According to court records, Debault told the detective that Talley and she arrived at Bridwell's residence the afternoon of Aug. 6 and Talley left the vehicle they were in with a .22 caliber pistol and went to the back door of Bridwell's residence.
“Debault stated she waited out in the vehicle when she heard two apparent gunshots,” the sheriff’s detective wrote in the probable cause statement. “Debault told me she ran inside the house and noticed Bridwell was lying the floor breathing and suffering from apparent gunshots. Debault stated she ran into the master bedroom where she stole several items belonging to Bridwell. Debault told me she went back outside and came back in the residence again to take more items belonging to Bridwell. Debault told me she waited in the vehicle where she heard two more gunshots.”
Then Talley exited the residence.
“Debault told me she was naive and assumed once Talley got out of the vehicle with the handgun, his intentions were that of murdering Bridwell,” the sheriff’s detective stated in court records.
According to the probable cause statement in Talley's initial arrest, Talley told Detectives that he had gone to Bridwell's home on August 5, with a baseball bat with the intention "of killing Bridwell that night by beating him with a baseball bat."
Another male was at Bridwell's residence when Talley arrived and he "stated that he did not go through with the beating," according to the probable cause statement. Instead, Talley returned "on the early morning of August 6" and knocked on the back door.
Talley, the probable cause statement reported, asked Bridwell for a glass of water and was allowed to enter the home. After entering the residence, Talley "shot Bridwell once." Talley told detectives, the probable cause statement said, "Bridwell attempted to get away when he (Talley shot him again in the side area."
"Talley continued to say Bridwell stumbled to the bathroom area where he fell. Talley said he took a towel placed the towel over the head of Bridwell and shot him at close range twice in the sid of the head," the probable cause statement reports.
Talley admitted to stealing items belonging to Bridwell after the shooting, according to the probable cause statement.
The shooting occurred in the 33000 block of State Highway TT in Big Piney, which is located just outside of Fort Leonard Wood in southeast Pulaski County.
“The hard work of the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department in investigating this case has allowed us to proceed to this point. Although there is more work to do to bring those responsible for the murder of Mr. Bridwell to justice, this plea allows us to focus on the case against Mr. Talley, the person the State believes the evidence points to as the primary assailant,” Hilman said in his press release Thursday.