No New Trial For Man Who Killed Two & Burned Their Bodies In Cass County


TEXARKANA, Texas–A Texas appellate court has affirmed the capital murder conviction and sentence of life without parole for a Cass County man who shot two people before burning their bodies in a fire pit in rural Cass County, Texas.

Kevin Dewayne Shepard Jr., 31, shot Donnie Combs and Cynthia Arnold sometime after they were last seen in late September 2018. The case went cold until 2019 when an eyewitness came forward with details of the grisly, unprovoked murders.

The Sixth Court of Appeals in Texarkana rejected an argument by Shepard that the eyewitness was an accomplice whose testimony must be corroborated. The court found that the witness was not involved in the killings and that the jury was free to believe her testimony if it found the witness credible.

Once the witness came forward, investigators with the Texas Rangers brought in FBI experts to sift the burn pit. There they found burned bone fragments, bullet casings and an earring identified by a family member as belonging to Arnold.

Shepard, Combs, Arnold and the witness were using methamphetamine together on rural property in Cass County. The witness testified that Arnold had gone to her truck to sleep and that Shepard and Combs were shooting into the fire pit when Shepard said, “‘Watch this,” before shooting into the truck, killing Arnold, according to the appellate opinion.

According to the witness, Shepard turned toward Combs and said, “I’ve got something for you too,” before shooting him, the opinion said.

Combs initially fell but got to his feet and ran. Shepard chased and eventually shot and killed Combs.

Shepard then put the bodies in a burn pit and set them on fire along with tires and trash, stoking and tending the blaze until the next day. After the flames were out, Shepard went through the ashes looking for any evidence and removed anything he found that he thought could be used by investigators, the opinion said.

Shepard was convicted of capital murder last year and sentenced to life without parole by 5th District Judge Bill Miller.

Shepard is currently being held at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Coffield Unit in Tennessee Colony, Texas.

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