Sgt 1st Class Daniel Keel faces murder charges after witnesses claim he stabbed victims as he shielded his grandfather
US soldier serving overseas indicted for murder of grandfather, great-grandmother
An indictment against a US soldier has been filed for the alleged stabbing deaths of his grandparents and great-grandmother in one of the most high-profile cases against a serving American service member in years.
The long-awaited indictment against 31-year-old sergeant 1st Class Daniel Keel of Dunwoody, Georgia, was filed on Wednesday, charged with three counts of murder. Keel is currently serving as a lieutenant in the US army at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
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The indictment stems from three deaths, one of which is considered a hate crime, according to investigators. Three victims and one suspect were interviewed at a police station in Augusta, Georgia, after the bodies of Keel’s grandfather, Walter Powell, 89, and grandmother Patricia Powell, 78, were found in their home on 30 September 2017.
Keel was with them when they were found dead, according to witness testimony in court. It is alleged that he murdered his grandparents and great-grandmother as he shielded his grandfather, the reported told police.
An autopsy showed Walter Powell had been stabbed in the head more than 30 times, and Patricia Powell had been stabbed 30 times, with her final wounds in her neck and back. Their bodies were found by a stepson of Daniel Keel, Sgt 1st Class Clint Powell, 33, who told investigators he had asked Keel to leave the house after he felt he had seen the suspect handling a weapon.
“Sgt 1st Class Powell came into the living room with Daniel Keel and his grandmother and spoke to the defendant, who appeared to be intoxicated,” the charges stated. “He and his grandmother began to speak with Sgt 1st Class Powell and asked Keel what he was doing. Keel told his grandfather that he needed to get his father to come home because he needed to tell him where his grandfather was. Keel went to his bedroom and came back with his grandfather. When Keel returned he began to attack them.”
Photograph: Augusta Chronicle/AP
He then asked his father, Clint Powell, to “show him where the murders were and to push the key through the peephole”, the indictment stated.
Clint Powell told investigators that he did not push the peephole. He watched his grandson return and stab his grandmother several times in the back before returning to his bedroom.
Walter Powell suffered 70 stab wounds and his girlfriend had been stabbed 12 times before she grabbed a knife from the kitchen, according to police.
“[Daniel Keel] yelled ‘shut up’ at him and restrained him until officers arrived,” the indictment stated.
Keel could receive the death penalty or life imprisonment. He has already been moved to a civilian detention facility outside of Augusta, Georgia, after filing for pre-trial release from military custody. He is scheduled to appear before a judge in Augusta state court for a pre-trial hearing on 4 March at 2pm.