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An Arlington man charged with murder in the death of his boyfriend last summer near Tyler State Park denied a 40-year plea deal on Monday.

Robert Ernst Price, 51, is accused of causing the death of Nathaniel Charles Snell, 32, of Arlington, on July 20, 2020 at the Exxon Food Mart convenience store in the 14900 block of Farm-to-Market Road 14 near Tyler State Park.

During a Zoom hearing on Monday, the prosecutor in the case said an offer of 45 years was initially made, which was later reduced to 40 years.

Price told Judge Kerry Russell of the 7th District Court that he rejects the 40-year offer, adding that he wants a jury trial.

Price has been in the Smith County Jail since July 23, 2020 on a $500,000 bond.

Russell noted during the hearing that jury trials are moving slowly due to COVID-19 precautions, and that Price’s case would be behind about 80 others.

According to the arrest warrant affidavit, security cam footage shows a vehicle in the parking lot of the store in the early morning of July 20 last year when a gunshot is heard. A man matching Snell’s description jumps out of the vehicle passenger side and runs into the store. The vehicle then leaves the parking lot.

Items from Snell’s pockets later led to the Smith County Sheriff’s Office to an Arlington neighborhood. Officers searched an Arlington residence, where they found a vehicle similar to the one seen in the Exxon parking lot. A roommate of both Price and Snell agreed to give the police a statement, the affidavit stated.

The roommate said Snell and Price were arguing in the early morning of July 20, and the decision was made for Snell to stop living in the home. The roommate said he saw Price sleeping alone on July 21 in the Arlington house, the affidavit read.

The document stated Price was seen crying and took Snell’s belongings to a Goodwill drop box.


Multimedia Journalist

I came to the Tyler Morning Telegraph in September 2019. I report on crime, courts, breaking news and various events in Tyler and East Texas.