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Suspect admits assaulting Auxvasse murder victim, father

Suspect admits assaulting Auxvasse murder victim, father

September 3rd, 2013 in News

Jake Ollie Gastler, 22, of Auxvasse has admitted to Callaway County law enforcement officers he assaulted two of his neighbors during a Saturday night incident at their home, court documents reveal.

Gastler is in Callaway County Jail facing felony charges of second-degree murder and first-degree assault in connection with an incident in the 100 block of Blue Ridge Road in Auxvasse. He is accused of assaulting and killing Zachery W. O'Conner, 23, and assaulting Zachery's father, Michael W. O'Conner, 57.

Gastler's bond is set at $700,000.

Callaway County Sheriff Dennis Crane filed a sworn probable cause for arrest statement with Callaway County Circuit Court stating that Gastler called his office last Saturday and initially reported finding the victims - his neighbors - outside their residence and had no knowledge of how the victims had been injured.

"After being advised of his Miranda rights," Crane stated in a sworn statement, "Gastler admitted that he had assaulted both of the victims during an incident at their residence. Gastler reported that he repeatedly punched Zachery O'Connor in the head during a dispute between the two."

Crane said Gastler told law enforcement officers he reacted physically when Zachery O'Connor pulled him by the shirt during a verbal confrontation.

"Gastler admitted that Zachery O'Connor did not strike or injure Gastler and that Gastler continued punching Zachery O'Connor when O'Connor was not attempting to fight back," Crane wrote in his sworn statement.

Crane said Gastler told deputies he believed that Zachery O'Connor was dead or dying after the assault and that he attempted to perform CPR on him.

Crane's statement reported Gastler told deputies that he repeatedly punched Michael O'Connor in the head immediately following the altercation with Zachery O'Connor.

"Gastler admitted that Michael O'Connor did not strike or injure him and that he continued to punch Michael O'Connor when O'Connor was not attempting to fight back," Crane reported in his sworn statement.

Crane said when deputies arrived after receiving a call at 12:53 a.m. Saturday, they found both victims with head injuries consistent with blunt force trauma. Michael O'Connor was conscious but was unable to communicate with law enforcement officers. He was transported to University Hospital in Columbia. Zachery O'Connor, Crane said, was dead at the scene and his death "appeared caused by head injuries."

Crane said Tuesday afternoon an autopsy was performed Monday and preliminary results are consistent with investigator's earlier reports.

"Death was caused by blunt force trauma," Crane said.

Crane said no weapons were recovered at the scene and there is no indication at this time that Gastler used anything other than his fists and body in the attack on the two men.

Gastler came under suspicion when deputies observed injuries on his hands.

Crane said Gastler's hands were damaged when officers first saw him.

"His initial story was that he found the two men and he did not know how they were injured. But in looking at the physical evidence of his hands, we believed there was more to the story," Crane said.

Gastler was taken to the Sheriff's Office and questioned.

Crane said after Gastler was advised of his rights, he admitted attacking the two men.

Crane said Tuesday afternoon investigators have not yet been able to interview the murder victim's father, who is a patient at University Hospital in Columbia.

No court date has been scheduled yet.

According to online court records through Missouri Casenet, Gastler pleaded guilty in February to two charges of third degree domestic assault for an incident in September 2012 in Montgomery County. He was sentenced to 270 days in jail and two years supervised probation on both charges, with suspended execution of sentence.