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Three teens suspected of beating and robbing a man in January are led from Pontotoc County Courthouse Thursday after appearing in court. From left to right are Deputy Travis Wilson, Trey Irvin, Grant Johnson, Daniel Vivier and Deputy Shandy Bynum.

Randy Mitchell
Ada Evening News

A preliminary hearing for three teens suspected of beating and robbing an elderly man got under way Thursday.

The preliminary hearing for Daniel Vivier, 17, Trey Irvin, 18, and Grant Johnson, 17, began with the state, represented by Assistant District Attorney Jim Tillison, calling the victim, Claude Arterburn.

The 86-year-old Arterburn, mostly recovered from his injuries, walked unassisted to the witness chair.

Authorities said Arterburn was found beaten Jan. 18 at his home with a baseball bat and stabbed several times in the face and left hand.

Deputies found Arterburn after an Ada police officer conducted a traffic stop on Johnson who was reportedly driving Arterburn’s pickup.

According to a court affidavit, Vivier reportedly told authorities the three went to burglarize the house and implicated Irvin as the one who committed the beating with a baseball bat.

Tillison spent the morning confirming evidence confiscated by sheriff’s deputies belonged to Arterburn and establishing he did not give anyone permission to enter his home or take his vehicle.

Arterburn described the extent of his injuries, saying he still suffers from diminished vision and hearing. He also has problems moving his left hand, which authorities said was injured during the beating.

Arterburn, asked what he remembered the evening he was attacked, said he only remembered going to sleep and waking up in the hospital several days later.

He told the court he did not remember the beating and did not recognize the three defendants.

Arterburn said he makes his living by building and selling dog houses and buying salvage items cheaply, repairing them and then selling them for a profit.

Authorities said Arterburn was known for keeping large amounts of cash on hand and had been the target of thieves in the past.

Arterburn said due to injuries he received in the beating, he is unable to build or repair things anymore and has not returned to the home he lived in since 1988.

Asked if he recognized the defendants, Arterburn looked at all three and said, “No I do not.”

Tillison introduced a knife into evidence, but Arterburn said he had many knives and could not say for sure whether the knife was his.

Defense attorneys did not question whether or not Arterburn was beaten, but did ask whether he knew for sure the defendants commited the crime.

“Do you know whether Trey Irvin took your stuff?” Gordon Melson, Irvin’s attorney, asked.

Arterburn said he did not, only what authorities told him about the investigation.

The hearing was postponed when Melson had to leave for a legal hearing in Oklahoma City just before noon.

Judge Steven Kessinger set a continuation for April 25 at 8:30 a.m. The defendants remain at Pontotoc County Justice Center without bond.

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