PEA RIDGE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Benton County Prosecuting Attorney Nathan Smith announced that the prosecution will not seek the death penalty in the case of Elijah Andazola, 19, the passenger in a violent crash that killed Pea Ridge Police Officer Kevin Apple in July, 2021.
Andazola, a resident of Bentonville, is charged with accomplice to capital murder and escape. He previously pleaded not guilty to the charges.
“After reviewing the evidence and with the support of Officer Apple’s mother, I elected to prosecute Mr. Andazola as an accomplice to Capital Murder and waive the death penalty in his case,” said Smith.
“As he was the passenger in the vehicle and not the driver, I do not believe that the specific facts and circumstances in Mr. Andazola’s case would legally meet the high burden under Arkansas law to justify a death sentence,” Smith continued. “My intention is to continue to seek justice for the murder of Officer Apple to the maximum extent allowed by law.”
Officer Apple, a 23-year veteran of law enforcement who served with the Pea Ridge Police Department for three years, was killed at a local gas station after attempting to stop a car that was being pursued by the Rogers Police Department.
The driver in the incident that killed Officer Apple, Shawna Cash, is charged with capital murder, escape, fleeing, two counts of aggravated assault, leaving the scene of a personal injury accident, criminal mischief, obstructing governmental operations and reckless driving. She has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Cash’s next court date is scheduled for April 15, while Andaloza’s is set for April 18. Both defendants are being held without bail in Benton County Jail.