Arlington police name second suspect in church attack

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by MONIKA DIAZ, JONATHAN BETZ & JIM DOUGLAS

Bio | Email | Follow: @wfaajdouglas

WFAA

Posted on March 5, 2011 at 4:30 PM

Updated Monday, Mar 7 at 7:41 PM

Suspect arrested

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NorthPointe Baptist Church

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ARLINGTON — Arlington police have now released the name of a second suspect in the murder of  NorthPointe Baptist Church Pastor Clint Dobson and the assault of his ministry assistant, Judy Elliott, last week.

Steven Lawayne Nelson and Anthony Gregory Springs are both charged with capital murder and criminal attempted capital murder.

Police said Pastor Dobson was suffocated with a plastic bag by Nelson.

The community is being credited with helping to provide information that led to the arrests. Tips helped investigators zero in on the suspect when he used one victim's credit card to purchase gas and other items at an Arlington mall.

According to investigators, Springs was arrested early Saturday and he provided information that led to Elliott's stolen car, which was recovered at an apartment complex outside of Arlington. Nelson was arrested later that day at an apartment complex just blocks from the murder scene, where the suspect lived with his mother.

"I had just woken up, and I heard like banging... like them banging on his door, and then I overheard them on the intercom," said neighbor Anthony Otting. "They were like, 'Come out with your hands out.'"

Police had to wait an hour for Nelson to surrender.

"He was pretty calm," said neighbor Anne-Marie Otting. "He just came out and had his hands up and they took him. They didn't jump him or anything; it was really calm."

According to public records, Nelson has a lengthy criminal history. He has been charged with nearly a dozen crimes over the past decade, but has served little time.

Nelson was convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in October in Dallas and was sentenced to eight years of probation.

Then, in November, he was sent to a state facility that houses defendants who violate their parole, community or mandatory supervision conditions. He was released less than two weeks ago.

Since 2005, Nelson has served some jail time for convictions of property theft, burglary and unauthorized use of a vehicle.

Arlington police also confirmed that Judy Elliott's missing Mitsubishi Galant has been recovered outside the city of Arlington. Police said the person of interest led them to the missing car.

Police found Dobson dead and Elliott critically injured Friday after receiving a call from someone who had looked inside the church's window and saw a motionless body on the floor.

Elliott, who was transported to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, is now expected to survive.

Police said both 29-year-old Dobson and his 67-year-old assistant were physically assaulted, and robbery was a possible motive. Some of their personal possessions were missing, as well as church items.

At least one neighbor of Nelson's was finding it hard to put him together with the brutal crime.

"I don't know if he did it or not; I'm not sure," said neighbor Laqueata Mitchell. "He just didn't seem like the type of person to come off to do something that evil."

Members of NorthPointe and First Baptist Arlington churches said their prayers have now been answered.

"I'm happy, if that is indeed the case, that it's moving forward," said First Baptist member Patsy Holmes. "For Clint's wife and family certainly that would be good news... and for Judy Elliott."

NorthPointe Baptist Church conducted service on Sunday.  The message was delivered by First Baptist Church Arlington Senior Pastor Dr. Dennis Wiles.

"We're not rejoicing in the punishment of this person, but we do want the right thing to happen," said Cindy Wiles, the wife of Pastor Wiles.

Elliott had worked at the church since 2007. Friends said the assistant was beaten so badly, her husband was unable to recognize her.

Friday, the day after the attack, flowers covered the entrance into the church. Loved ones and church members gathered at the church to mourn Dobson's death.

"He had a heart for the disadvantaged and people who were struggling, and that's just who he was," said Pastor Wiles.  "He was a fine young preacher, but he was a much better person."

The NorthPointe church is a satellite ministry of First Baptist Church Arlington.

Dobson was a graduate of Baylor University. He also volunteered time as a community minister for the Arlington Police Department, and was very active when Arlington Officer Jillian Smith was killed.

The pastor grew up in Houston, where his family still resides.

"Everybody is asking why, you know, the typical response at times like this," said a mentor of Dobson's in Houston. "And of course, we're trying to look for opportunities to say how much we love them and how much we love Clint."

Police said there is no reason for the public to be concerned that there are possibly other suspects in this case.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

E-mail mdiaz@wfaa.com

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