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Nephew of Blane Barksdale agrees to plead guilty to arson

Brent Mallard (Tucson Police Department Mugshot)

A man accused of setting fire to the Tucson home of an alleged murder victim and whose uncle was the subject of a recent national manhunt has agreed to plead guilty to arson charges.

Brent Mallard, 30, is the nephew of Blane Barksdale, who is charged with his wife, Susan, in the presumed homicide of 72-year-old Frank Bligh.

At a plea hearing Friday in Pima County Superior Court, Mallard said he had no knowledge of the actual alleged murder plot.

Authorities said Bligh’s home was burned down in April, but his body hasn’t been found.

The Barksdales were recaptured Wednesday in a remote Arizona community after escaping from a prison transport van in Utah 16 days earlier.

Blane had been added to a federal most wanted list.

David Gonzales of the U.S. Marshals District of Arizona told KTAR News 92.3 FM early Thursday the couple was found in Punkin Center, about 88 miles northeast of downtown Phoenix.

He said Blane put up a struggle at the compound where they were found and was shocked with a Taser before he was finally subdued.

The couple was said to have overwhelmed private security guards who were bringing them back from upstate New York to Tucson to face prosecution in the Bligh case.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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