Trial continued in killing of Houston man whose body was dumped in river

bpurser@macon.comApril 9, 2013 

PERRY -- The expected April trial of two men accused of killing a Centerville man and dumping his body in a river has been continued.

William Allen Slaton, 30, and Matthew Jacob Pike, 28, of Houston County, are accused of the 2012 beating and strangulation of 25-year-old Justin Arthur Klaffka. The men pleaded not guilty at their arraignments.

A third man, Daniel Lee Slaton, 36, reached a plea agreement in connection with the killing in exchange for testimony against his brother, William Slaton.

District Attorney George Hartwig said he understood the trial has been tentatively set for May. Klaffka’s family members have been told by Houston County authorities that the case may to go trial the week of May 20.

Investigators say Klaffka got into an argument April 10, 2012, with the Slaton brothers and Pike at a Dixie Trail home about whether Klaffka had ratted them out for an armed robbery two days earlier.

Klaffka’s body was discovered in the Ocmulgee River several days later near a popular fishing hole off Ga. 96.

William Slaton and Pike were indicted on charges of malice murder, felony murder, kidnapping with bodily injury, aggravated assault and tampering with evidence. The indictment alleges the men choked Klaffka to death, removed blood from the crime scene at 119 Dixie Trail, and took off and burned Klaffka’s clothing before dumping his body in the river.

Pike and William Slaton are accused of the actual beating of Klaffka, and Daniel Slaton’s participation in the crime was driving the Chevrolet S-10 Blazer, Hartwig previously said.

Daniel Slaton was sentenced March 22 to 30 years without the possibility of parole for aggravated battery, kidnapping and tampering with evidence in connection with the killing, court records show.

Russell Walker, a Perry attorney representing William Slaton, declined to comment on the facts of the case Tuesday. Neither Jeff Grube, a Warner Robins attorney representing Pike, nor Assistant District Attorney Greg Winters, who is expected to prosecute the case, could be reached by telephone for comment.

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.

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