Murder suspect identified: Enters ‘not guilty’ plea in brother’s slaying

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

A 17-year-old Carroll County boy pleaded not guilty Monday to a charge of capital murder in connection with the apparent slaying of his older brother last month.

Joseph Santiago, who is charged as an adult, entered the plea during a brief appearance before Circuit Judge Scott Jackson at the Carroll County Eastern District Courthouse in Berryville. His next court appearance is scheduled for Monday, March 13, at the Carroll County Western District Courthouse in Eureka Springs.

Santiago was arrested on Jan. 17, after Carroll County Sheriff’s Office deputies responding to a call from the brothers’ father, Robert Keever, found the body of 21-year-old Alex Santiago in the living room of a mobile home at 92 Carroll County Road 219, in the Grandview area northwest of Berryville.

A probable cause affidavit written by CCSO investigator Lt. Jerry Reddick says Alex Santiago had “extensive trauma to his head and had a sword sticking out of his mid-section.”

A baseball bat found near the body was covered in blood, and a scabbard for the sword was found lying on the bed in the master bedroom where Joseph Santiago had been, the affidavit says.

Keever’s name and the names of both sons were redacted from a copy of the affidavit released by the sheriff’s office, but Keever and Alex Santiago were identified in an earlier news release from the CCSO, and Joseph Santiago was identified in open court on Monday.

The affidavit says Joseph Santiago admitted to investigators that he killed his brother with the baseball bat and stabbed him with the sword before taking a shower, changing clothes and watching television.

The affidavit says that during his initial call to the sheriff’s office, Keever indicated that Alex Santiago was autistic.

In addition to admitting that he killed his brother, the affidavit says, Joseph Santiago also admitted to setting a fire at the family’s previous residence, at the Osage Trailer Park on Carroll County Road 306, in April 2016. According to the affidavit, Joseph Santiago said he locked his brother in his room and then poured gasoline on the floor before setting the home on fire.

CCSO Chief Deputy Maj. George Frye confirmed that deputies responded to the residence on Jan. 6 to check on an individual who was reportedly suicidal. Frye said privacy laws prevented him from discussing the subject’s medical condition, and that he could not identify the subject because that individual was a minor.

Joseph Santiago is charged with capital murder, attempted capital murder and arson. He is being held without bond at the Benton County Detention Center in Bentonville.

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