2 charged in slaying, robbery of Texas pastor

AP News
Posted: Mar 07, 2011 7:33 PM
2 charged in slaying, robbery of Texas pastor

Prosecutors on Monday charged two men with capital murder in the slaying and robbery of a young Texas pastor in his church.

Steven Lawayne Nelson, 24, and Anthony Gregory Springs, 19, also were charged with attempted capital murder in connection with the robbery and beating of a NorthPointe Baptist Church employee Thursday.

Prosecutors in the Tarrant County District Attorney's Office said it's too early to say if they will seek the death penalty.

The Rev. Clint Dobson's cause of death was suffocation by a plastic bag, according to the Tarrant County medical examiner. The funeral service for the 28-year-old Dobson, described by church members as a caring pastor and gifted communicator, was planned for Wednesday.

Neither suspect has appeared in court yet or has an attorney, said Arlington police spokeswoman Tiara Ellis Richard.

Tips from the public were invaluable and led to the break in the case, Deputy Chief Barry Hines said Monday.

Arlington detectives found that jewelry and shoes were purchased with one victim's credit cards soon after the crime Thursday, and police later obtained store surveillance footage showing both men using the stolen credit cards, according to police documents released Monday.

Springs, who was arrested late Friday, told police that after the men went shopping, Nelson gave him an item that belonged to the pastor and also said he robbed the church and suffocated Dobson, according to the documents.

Springs told police that he met Nelson at a gas station Thursday before going to the mall, and that Nelson was driving the church employee's car, according to documents.

Earlier Monday before Springs was charged in the case, Deputy Chief Jaime Ayala said Springs was a "person of interest" and declined to say if he had been at the church that day.

Two women had contacted police and said Nelson and Springs "began laughing and making inappropriate comments" during news reports about the pastor's death, according to documents. The women told police that Nelson and Springs had committed robberies together and had been trying to rob people in recent days.

Nelson, who was arrested Saturday, has previous convictions that include aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, theft and burglary, according to public records. A search of public records showed no convictions for Springs.