Tue, Jan. 21

Murder suspect pleads not guilty

Robert Charles Drake, who was arrested March 29, on suspicion of murder, pleaded not guilty in Yavapai County Superior Court last week.

Court records indicate that Drake, 51, faces charges of one count of first-degree murder, one count of attempted first-degree murder, two counts of aggravated assault and one count of unlawful use of a means of transportation.

Cottonwood police and firefighters responded to Mingus Pointe Apartments on S. Sixth Street in Cottonwood on March 29, and reportedly discovered Sandra Paul, 45, of Cottonwood bleeding profusely from her neck on a bench outside the apartment complex office.

Moments later, paramedics then reportedly discovered David Poe, 46, also of Cottonwood, in an upstairs apartment with a similar injury to his neck.

Police reported that both Paul and Poe had apparently been assaulted with a knife or similar object. Paul later died of her injuries.

Both victims were transported to Verde Valley Medical Center. Poe was later released.

Police considered Drake a suspect in the attack, as he had reportedly had been spending the previous night and that morning with both victims, according to Cottonwood Police Chief Doug Bartosh.

Police investigators suspected that Drake had fled the scene in Paul's van. They later discovered the van abandoned on Loy Road in Cornville on March 29.

Police report that Drake had been seen leaving the area on foot at approximately 1 p.m.

Investigators were led to Rimrock, then learned that Drake had been sighted hitchhiking on Interstate 17 near Arizona 279 attempting to flee north.

An Arizona Department of Public Safety officer John Paul Cartier was dispatched to the area, made contact with Drake and arrested him without incident on March 30 approximately 24 hours after the bloody attack.

Drake is scheduled to appear before Yavapai County Superior Judge Pro Tem Warren Darrow for a case management conference on Monday, May 2, at 9 a.m. in Camp Verde.

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