Tulsa man Derek Glenn Arnold, 39, was found guilty of first-degree murder in the 2002 death of Michael Nolen Yarbrough.

The verdict was reached in Rogers County District Court on Thursday afternoon, following 90 minutes of jury deliberation.

After seven days of testimony from various witnesses, including co-defendant Eric Hamilton, a jury of six men and six women convicted Arnold.

He could face the death penalty or life in prison with or without the possibility of parole. The penalty phase of the trial began today.

Yarbrough’s body was discovered by staff members at the Super 8 Motel in Catoosa. His body had been stuffed beneath a mattress in room 122 on July 31, 2002.

Testimony during the murder trial from law enforcement agents, as well as friends of Arnold, corroborated the evidence the prosecution presented, as well as corroborating with a statement made by Hamilton, 30, when he turned himself in to police.

During closing arguments, Assistant District Attorney Edith Singer stated Arnold was jealous of Yarbrough for talking to his former girlfriend, Catalina Hartsell.

Hartsell had testified that Arnold questioned her very brief passing conversation with Yarbrough while she was waiting for Arnold to exit his motel room at Super 8. She added that he had questioned who the man was that brought her to the hotel.

Both Hamilton and Hartsell testified that they, as well as Arnold and another room occupant, used meth the morning of the murder.

Hartsell told jurors she sought out Arnold to determine whether he had stolen approximately $1,200 and a stash of meth that had been taken from a mutual acquaintance. Once at the hotel room, Hartsell said she found the drugs and some of the cash, which she returned to the acquaintance.

Singer reminded the jurors that Hamilton testified about the events of that day, and how the murder came about.

Arnold had complained in an agitated manner to hotel staff that Yarbrough had stolen money from him, and asked the front desk clerk to scan his phone records for certain numbers. Those numbers were never found to be dialed from Yarbrough’s room, according to testimony.

Hamilton testified that he and Arnold had went to Yarbrough’s room to find out the whereabouts of Hartsell and the drugs and cash. Yarbrough reportedly told the two men that he had not seen her, and did not know of any drugs or money. Hartsell had written a letter to Arnold, according to her testimony, explaining why she took the drugs and money and where she was taking them.

According to Singer, Hamilton was sent down to Yarbrough’s room to retrieve his cell phone, which Arnold took to search for evidence that Hartsell’s number had been called.

It was then, according to testimony, that Arnold and Hamilton went to Yarbrough’s room, where Arnold accused him of contacting Hartsell, and kicked him in the face. Arnold then reportedly left the room telling Hamilton he would return shortly.

Singer reminded the jurors that Hamilton stayed in the room with Yarbrough, drinking beer with him, where he said, “just tell him what you know.”

Once Arnold returned, Hamilton testified that he was carrying a bucket with a tire tool hanging out of it. Singer said Hamilton testified to Arnold beating Yarbrough in the face with the tool, before placing a pillow over his head to continue the beating.

The two men then took Yarbrough to the bathtub where it was filled with water. Both men placed Yarbrough in the tub face down, according to testimony, and Hamilton told jurors Arnold stood on the victim’s back while he was under water.

Yarbrough’s body was then dragged into the sleeping area where together, Arnold and Hamilton broke his back by pulling his legs up while Yarbrough was face down on the floor.

Yarbrough was then duct taped around the feet, a plastic bag was placed over his head and duct taped as well. The two men placed a shower curtain over his body before placing bags of ice on top, and replacing the box springs and mattress.

Hamilton testified for the prosecution after making a deal to receive life in prison. He will be required to serve 85 percent of that time, which will be approximately 32 years.

Both men have been housed in the Rogers County Jail for nearly four years.

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