Arnett facing first degree murder

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By Susan Sharp

Authorities have determined when Robert Brian Arnett murdered Billy Mardis, Jr. last month it is probable the killing was an intentional one.

On Monday, a Campbell County Grand Jury handed down the sole count indictment charging Arnett with first-degree murder in the matter, according to the court record. Under state law, first degree murder is the charging offense when there is an element of premeditation to the crime.

While LaFollette Police are not disclosing the exact details of the crime, it does appear to have a domestic element to it.

Following the shooting, investigating officer, Det. Jason Henegar, said it appeared the two men had been arguing over a female. In particular, Mardis’ estranged wife, Shelia Mardis.

On the afternoon of December 1, 2008, Arnett, Shelia Mardis and Arnett’s 15-year-old son were at an East Central Avenue home when the men engaged in argument, records from the crime indicate. As they quarreled, Arnett emerged from his vehicle with a shotgun, Henegar said.

“He fired one shot and it struck Mardis in the abdomen,” Henegar said.

Instead of falling to the ground, Mardis retreated to his vehicle. He then drove himself two blocks to the local emergency room, LPD complaint records said. Within 48 hours, Mardis was dead.

Arnett was arrested at the scene. The weapon, a .12 gauge shotgun, was immediately confiscated when LaFollette Police arrived, Henegar said.

Mardis is expected to be arraigned Monday in criminal court.