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Homeless couple accused of killing Pinellas Park man

PINELLAS PARK — A couple from Kentucky has been arrested in connection with the May murder of a Pinellas Park man.

Gregg Daugherty, 46, and Marita Hutchinson, 37, both face first-degree murder charges related to the death of Gary Yarnell.

Yarnell, 69, who was known to friends and neighbors as an eccentric collector and salesman of bizarre items, was found dead May 29 after firefighters extinguished a blaze at his home at 6498 76th Ave. N.

A investigation led detectives to Daugherty and Hutchinson, who had stayed as guests in Yarnell's home, police said.

"Through investigative means, we were able to put both of those folks at the residence for a brief period before the crime," said Sgt. Brian Unmisig, spokesman for the Pinellas Park police.

In the weeks that followed Yarnell's death, police obtained arrest warrants for the pair, who were believed to have traveled to Kentucky or Ohio, Unmisig said.

Police declined to provide more details about what led them to suspect the couple. But when Kentucky State Police tried to stop Daugherty at a DUI checkpoint June 30, he was driving Yarnell's stolen Toyota Solera, police said.

Police chased Daugherty as he fled in the car near the city of London, officials said, but he managed to escape. The car was found abandoned the next day.

A further investigation led police to a nearby home, where Hutchinson was found and arrested, police said. Daugherty remained on the run until Monday, when police arrested him at a home in the town of Keavy.

How the couple met Yarnell remained unclear Wednesday. In addition to the car, they also stole several items from inside the man's home, police said.

It also remained unclear how the couple knew each other, though records reveal similarities in their respective backgrounds.

Both hail from the area of Kentucky where they were arrested. Both have served stints in Florida prison. Both lived at separate Clearwater addresses following their release from prison.

Daugherty was released in November after completing an extended sentence he received when he escaped from a work release facility, according to state records. There, he was completing a two-year sentence for a conviction in Indian River County for grand theft of a motor vehicle.

Hutchinson was released in August after serving a little more than a year for a 2009 conviction in Indian River County for grand theft of a motor vehicle.

Hutchinson was extradited to Florida and booked Wednesday in the Pinellas County Jail on charges of first-degree murder and dealing in stolen property. Daugherty remains in jail in Kentucky pending extradition. He faces murder and grand theft charges upon his return.

Times news researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.

Homeless couple accused of killing Pinellas Park man 07/18/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 18, 2012 10:56pm]
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