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Attorney says client innocent

A Lincoln County man was arrested and charged with capitalmurder and robbery Thursday in connection with the Jan. 16 shootingdeath of convenience store owner John Deere, authorities said.

Kenneth Baggett Jr., 22, of 2471 Lake Lincoln Dr., was arrestedat his residence around 12:20 a.m. Thursday, said Lincoln CountySheriff Wiley Calcote. Baggett remained in jail under a $1 millionbond and a preliminary hearing date has not been set.

“It’s been a long investigation and we finally came up with theleads we needed,” Calcote said.

Defense attorney Joe Fernald spoke briefly with Baggett whilehis client was being processed into the jail.

“He maintains his innocence and says he was not there,” Fernaldsaid.

Deere’s body was found in the Airport Pik & Pak parking lotafter the sheriff’s department received a 911 call around 5 a.m. onJan. 16. Authorities believe the shooting happened between 4:30 and4:45 a.m. shortly after Deere, 55, arrived to start the businessday.

A cash box that was taken in the incident was later recoveredalong Interstate 55.

Authorities did not say Thursday if the murder weapon had beenrecovered or how they were able to connect Baggett to the scene ofthe crime.

“We don’t want to release any information that may jeopardizeour case,” said Investigator Lance Falvey. “Other arrests may beforthcoming.”

Baggett was out on bond after being charged with the burglary ofa school vending machine that authorities believe happened onlyhours before the Deere incident.

Calcote said authorities needed more information before beingable to connect Baggett with the Deere shooting. The sheriff saidconfidential information received around 8 p.m. Wednesday providedauthorities with the break they needed to obtain a warrant.

“I’m glad to get this behind us,” Calcote said. “This has been areal sensitive issue, especially for the Deere family and othermembers of the community.”

Fernald said he, his client and investigators had been trying tomeet to discuss the incident, but were unable to find a time thatwas acceptable to all involved. Falvey agreed, but added that theattorney had asked for a list of questions in advance of theinterview.

Fernald said his client would be agreeable to taking a polygraphtest. The attorney was also awaiting a review of evidence in thecase.

“We look forward to seeing what they’ve got,” Fernald said.