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Murder suspect arrested in Spokane

| December 26, 2020 1:00 AM

SANDPOINT — A man sought in the shooting death of Brandon Vern Hurst was arrested by the U.S. Marshals fugitive task force late Wednesday in Spokane.

Neal Aaron Mouser, 59, was arrested on a first-degree murder charge after the task force developed information that Mouser had moved to Washington, according to a press release from the office. After surveillance in the 300 block of South Greene Street, Mouser was identified in the area on foot and arrested.

The U.S. Marshal for the District of Idaho, Brent Bunn, expressed his appreciation of the collaboration between law enforcement in the region.

“[T]he great teamwork and sharing of intelligence between local, state and federal law enforcement in Idaho and Washington contributed to the quick apprehension of a dangerous fugitive,” Bunn said in the release.

Mouser's arrest follows those of Cantrip Velite Gatens, 28, and Scott Thomas Kachel, 62, in connection with Hurst's death.

Gatens is charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and Kachel is charged with accessory to murder for allegedly dumping Hurst's body down a steep embankment along Caribou Creek Road.

A criminal complaint alleges Gatens lured Hurst to a remote area, where Mouser was armed and laying in wait in order to "assassinate" Hurst.

Gatens made an initial appearance in Bonner County Magistrate Court on Wednesday via videoconferencing with the jail. Senior Judge Debra Heise sustained Gatens' $750,000 bail and appointed a public defender to represent her.

Kachel appears to be the subject of an arrest warrant.

Hurst's body was discovered by a man jogging with his son on Dec. 10. The body was positively identified as that of Hurst on Dec. 14. He had multiple gunshot wounds to his neck, ribcage, forearm and both hands, a probable cause affidavit said.

Gatens is described in court documents as Hurst's former girlfriend but had been an ongoing subject of his affection.

Another of Gatens' suitors, 31, told Bonner County sheriff's investigators that Gatens directed him to drive her to Spokane. While en route, the man said Gatens expressed anger at Hurst for allegedly hitting her and accused Hurst of being a police informant.

After picking up Mouser in Spokane and heading back to Bonner County, the witness told detectives he became aware of Gatens' and Mouser's plan to kill Hurst. The witness said he pleaded with them not to kill Hurst, prompting Mouser to allegedly say, "The decision has been made."

Gatens and the witness walked to Kachel's property on Lois Lane while Mouser stayed behind, court documents said. Gatens called Hurst, ostensibly to help her repair her vehicle. After Hurst and Gatens later arrived at the Caribou Creek location, Mouser emerged from the tree line, approached the PT cruiser as Hurst sat in the front seat and opened fire with an unspecified firearm, the criminal complaint says.

The PT Cruiser Hurst was using was found abandoned in a storage lot in Spokane on Dec. 18. Blood spatter was found on the steering wheel, driver's side door panel and the driver's seat, the affidavit said.

A preliminary hearing in Gatens' case is set for Jan. 6.

Anyone with information regarding Hurst's murder is asked to call Bonner County Dispatch at 208-265-5525