Deputy Prosecutor John Johnson said Moore and his companions were committing crimes, but Hastings had acted recklessly and not in self-defense.
Defense attorney Bill James countered that Hastings believed he was about to be run over and that investigators had overlooked physicial evidence damaging to the state's case. He said Hastings was doing his job that night; the others involved were committing crimes.
More details from David follow:
Beebe spokesperson Stacey Hall said the governor was "concerned and irritated." UPDATE: Hall released this statement at 4 p.m.:
The Department of Community Corrections and the Arkansas Parole Board will do a thorough review of the specific case in question. They will also focus on whether current practices and procedures need to be restructured. Governor Beebe wants a investigation of the current system to discern whether this is an isolated incident or a systemic problem.
According to the Democrat-Gazette story, by Spencer Willems, (sorry about misspelling in original post)Dennis had never had a hearing on the eight parole absconder warrants he's racked up since his 2008 release from prison, where he'd served 19 years for aggravated robbery and theft of property as well for violating parole on earlier convictions on theft, drug and kidnapping charges that sent him to prison for three years.
Since his release, the D-G reports, he's been arrested 14 times and had 21 charges filed against him excluding parole violations. He did not show up for two parole revocation hearings in 2010, but was finally picked up May 1 for absconding. However, he was released from the Pulaski County jail on May 8, and Dennis, despite his long record of parole violations, was told that he needed to report to a parole officer within 24 hours. He did not. Forrest Abrams was kidnapped, robbed and killed, his body dumped at 11th and South Woodrow, 32 hours after Dennis' release.
Director Eberhard had inquired into Dennis' release, the Democrat-Gazette reported, and was told that the jail did not hold persons who would be sent to the Department of Correction technical violator center, where it was believed Dennis would be sent.
ADDED COMMENT FROM MAX: It is past time for the Community Corrections Department to be more forthcoming about its failures, or at least role in crimes by people under its supervision. If the state isn't given full explanations soon, what is a governor for?
David Koon provides reporting from the scene:
Shoffner arrived about 1:30 p.m. for the unannounced waiver hearing. She wouldn't comment to reporters about our report that a plea bargain was in the works and that Shoffner would plead guilty as a step toward reducing her punishment for extorting money from a securities broker who did business with the state.
In court, the U.S. attorney read the elements of the charge first revealed at her court appearance May 20. Again, the cooperating government informant was not identified. Our sources have said he is Steele Stephens, now a former employee of St. Bernard Financial Services, which grew to have $500 million in state bond business through his relationship with Shoffner.
Trouble began when Judge Holmes asked Shoffner, after she waived indictment, if she understood she had a right to plead guilty or not guilty. After a long pause, she proclaimed: "Guilty."
The judge then explained he was not seeking a plea at that point, but a yes or no answer on whether she understood she was not required to plead guilty.
The judge subsequently began asking Shoffner questions.
Were you taking money, he asked.
Yes, but it was offered, she said. "I didn't demand it."
Did you intentionally direct business to the broker, the judge asked.
I didn't do it intentionally, Shoffner responded.
He then asked if the money she received had anything to do with her job as treasurer.
She said it didn't.
At that point, the judge said, "I don't think we're there on the elements of the statute." He denied her attempt to plead guilty and the hearing ended after Banks and Shoffner conferred briefly (Banks took her to the side of the courtroom, put his hand on her shoulder and spoke for maybe 20 seconds) and then said she would face indictment and stand trial.
U.S. Attorney Chris Thyer said afterward that the failure of the plea was unexpected and he was disappointed. He said he'd never seen a plea fall apart like this in his career. "My office will proceed to indict Miss Shoffner for what we alleged in the complaint. We'll present the case to the Grand Jury very soon." He said he didn't know if the waiver of indictment was moot or not, since she'd entered it, but he'd be safe by proceeding to the Grand Jury.
Thyer also said a Grand Jury might well add additional charges to the single charge Shoffner faced today.
He said he'd never say never to another plea agreement, but "at this point we are abandoning all those efforts."
He wouldn't comment on what the U.S. attorney was prepared to offer Shoffner in return for her plea.
Shoffner commented briefly to reporters as she left with Banks. "There were just questions I couldn't answer," she said. She apologized to the people of the state of Arkansas.
Banks said he might have more to say tomorrow.
PS — That pie in which the informant hid $6,000 in $100 bills when he made the wired visit to Shoffner's home in Newport May 18? It was apple, the government revealed today. The source remains unknown.
PPS — In the runup to the plea, speculation about Shoffner's defense had run in the direction she more or less hinted at by her answers to the judges questions. She wasn't engaged in knowing illegal acts. It would go like this: She had a long familiarity with Stephens' family because his father grew up in Newport. They'd supported her races for state legislature and treasurer. Their friendship was such that he did many small favors for her — taking care of her aging dog, helping her find people to mow her yard. He's doing business with the state (legitimate business, he and she would argue) and she mentions she needs money, $1,000 a month, to pay for rent on a Little Rock apartment. He helps out. What are friends for? It's a thin defense, but given the evidence it might be all she has. And she may even have grown to convince herself of it. But a jury? Not likely. Shoffner is also 68 and many who've worked with her have commented on her confusion or lack of clarity. It was evident in her disastrous appearances (and one non-appearance) before Legislative Audit.
PPS — I note that the charge to which Shoffner was to plead was modified slightly, with a significant reduction in maximum penalty to 10 years. I'd heard that the plea bargaining, with expected cooperation, might have left Shoffner looking at no more than two years in confinement.
UPDATE: I have David's more detailed notes from today's hearing:
The Little Rock police are looking for the man in the surveillance photo above. He's a suspect in a robbery this morning of a Metropolitan National Bank branch at 6712 Baseline Road. He demanded money, but didn't show a gun. No one was hurt. The robber was last seen walking north on Verbena Street.
My sources have alerted me that former Arkansas Treasurer Martha Shoffner will appear in court at that time to enter a negotiated plea related to the federal extortion charge filed May 20 that alleged she used her public office to get payments from a securities broker who'd been given a big share of the treasurers's state bond investments. She resigned her state office the next day, with 19 months to run in her term.
A guilty plea would be an important step toward reducing the potential sentence she would face on conviction, up to a maximum of 20 years. A criminal lawyer had earlier run an estimate on a potential sentence under the guidelines that indicated a conviction at trial could bring a minimum of roughly five years of jail time. A guilty plea and other cooperation could reduce that, though few expect a public official accused of such a crime to escape prison time.
The sentence won't follow the plea today. Sentencing would follow a full report by the probation office.
Shoffner, 68, has been free on personal recognizance since her initial appearance in federal court. She spent two nights in the County Jail after her arrest by the FBI May 18. They swooped into her Newport home after the unidentified cooperating securities broker — identified by our sources as Steele Stephens — delivered her a pie that concealed $6,000 in $100 bills. He'd earlier recorded a phone call with Shoffner in which he discussed her cash payments.
The hearing might give an indication of whether the investigation extends beyond Shoffner and the broker, who's been given immunity from federal prosecution. Typically, state prosecutors defer to federal decisions in such cases, though avenues might be open to state charges against Shoffner and others. That, too, will be a question following the hearing.
The state Securities Department is reviewing the case. Stephens resigned from his position at St. Bernard Financial Services shortly after the case broke. Robert Keenan, chief executive of St. Bernard, has defended his firm's investment practices (some trades came under scrutiny by legislators) and said he had no idea of any illicit activities by anyone working for him. He said he has never been interviewed by federal agents about the case.
The Little Rock police say former U.S. Sen. David Pryor's home on a side street off the Cantrell Road hill was burglarized Thursday while the Pryors were away between about 9:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. The report said no sign of forced entry was found, but a sliding glass door on a deck was open and the front door was unlocked when they returned.
The thief or thieves ransacked several rooms, dumping out contents of drawers, and apparently used a bedspread to wrap up some of the items stolen.
Pryor and his wife Barbara reported that two Macbook computers, sterling silver flatware and serving pieces, pocket watches and a substantial amount of jewelry were stolen. Some $30,000 worth of items, including $21,000 worth of sterling items, were taken, not counting jewelry, which hadn't been inventoried.
Pryor said he'd seen a suspicious brown truck in rough condition on the street in recent days.
She rode past her car a couple of times. Lots of people were out and about that day. Her car was full of junk and her wallet and purse were stuffed in a jacket under a seat, but it didn't deter thieves who broke a window, found the handbag and took off with it. Not much by way of financial loss except the leather accessories; a lot by way of lesson.
My own experience with car thefts told me long ago that a locked car is an invitation. I did better when I resolved never to leave anything of value in a car and to leave cars unlocked. Saves on glass repair. Who knew a thief would walk off with my prized wooden discus once? May he hurl in peace.
Former County Administrator Jeff Johnston pleads guilty to misdemeanor theft. Receives 12 months probation, $1,000 fine.
He'd been charged with a felony for using county resources to asphalt his private driveway. He'd earlier repaid more than $3,800 to the county road fund. He was fired from his county job earlier this month.
The state's petition to remove Cassell will go back to the lower court for granting of the order, if he doesn't resign before then. So far, he hasn't commented.
The Supreme Court has now made it clear several times that a misdemeanor CAN meet the 1874 Constitution's definition of an infamous crime that makes someone ineligible for Arkansas office.
Circuit Judge David Clinger had decided that the state had to show not only that there was a crime of dishonesty but that the conviction "impugned the integrity of the office or directly impacted Cassell’s ability to serve" to justify removal.
Justice Cliff Hoofman, writing for a unanimous court (with Justices Hart and Baker not participating, but replaced by special justices), said there was no two-part test. Past cases hold, he said, that "...a crime that involves dishonesty or deceit constitutes an “infamous crime” under the Arkansas Constitution, which bars the offender from holding public office. ... An “infamous crime” by its nature impugns the integrity of the office and directly impacts the person’s ability to serve as an elected official."
You can chalk this up as, effectively, a putdown of 2013 legislation by the Arkansas General Assembly. In Act 724, the legislature endeavored to interpret what the Constitution meant by infamous crimes in the law on qualifications to run for office. It retained misdemeanor theft as an enumerated infamous crime, among others. But an uncodified portion of the measure said a court should also "measure certain variables, such as the attendant mental state of the offense, the particular circumstances surrounding the charged offense, the age and education of the person committing the offense, and, if the offense occurred before the person has assumed public office, the age of the person at the time of the conviction itself."
Hoofman rejected such thinking. “Under the plain language of the Constitution it is the fact of conviction that disqualifies a person from holding public office.”
Arkansas State Troopers assigned to the Executive Protection detail arrested an individual on the grounds of the Arkansas Governor’s residence this morning.
About 5:30 AM the man climbed over a fence and was quickly apprehended. He did not resist arrest.
State Police CID agents are currently questioning the man who will later be transported to the Pulaski County Jail.
Ramon Taylor, 32, of Little Rock is incarcerated at the Pulaski County Jail charged with criminal trespass and breaking and entering of a vehicle.
Taylor scaled a fence outside the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion, accessed a civilian’s vehicle and was quickly taken into custody by Arkansas State Police.
A North Little Rock woman has died after her fiancee poured gasoline on her and set her on fire.
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District announced earlier today that it has indicted 16 people on conspiracy charges, including Idalia Ramos Rangel, aka "Big Momma" or "La Tia," a "high-ranking member of the Gulf Cartel" who directed a drug operation out of Matamoros, Mexico, for distributing "hundreds of kilograms of cocaine" in Arkansas.
Also named in the indictment are Rangel's son Mohammed Kazam Rangel, who the indictment says recruited fellow inmates in a federal prison in Forrest City to distribute cocaine upon their release from prison. Those inmates included Emmanuel Ilo and Mervin Johnson, who dealt in Central Arkansas, the indictment says. Read the full indictment here and a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office here.
New information on a shooting late Tuesday night on Black Jack Court in Southwest Little Rock. The police report, based on witness accounts, identified a suspect who shot Kelshun Mouton. Mouton reportedly fired a shot in the air to break up an altercaton between a woman companion and another man who'd been following their car.
The man who fired the fatal shot turned himself into police today. The LRPD reported:
The Detectives interviewed several witnesses and were able to determine that Donovan Sherard Whittington was the suspect that shot and killed this victim. Homicide Detectives searched for the suspect throughout the night without success however on May 8th, 2013 Mr. Donovan Whittington arrived at Little Rock police headquarter building with his attorney to provide information about the incident. Based on the investigation conducted by detectives, Mr. Whittington was released without charges and the file will be sent to the Prosecutors office for review.
Little Rock recorded its 10th homicide of 2013 overnight. Kelshawn Mouton, 21, was found shot to death on Black Jack Court in Southwest Little Rock off Stagecoach Road about 11 p.m. last night. Witnesses identified a suspect, who is being sought.
One witness said she was riding in a car with Mouton and others when it began being followed by the suspect, her former boyfriend, who she said had been harassing her over a debt of $100. They turned off Stagecoach to avoid him, but the suspect blocked their car at the end of the cul de sac. Mouton got out of the car to defend the woman, who said she'd been grabbed by the suspect. She said Mouton fired a shot in the air and the suspect then shot Mouton. Mouton reportedly said before dying that he'd only fired to stop the attack on the woman, not to hit the suspect. A car and a house on the street were hit by bullets in the exchange.
UPDATE: Two bodies found in house on W. 33rd. Fox 16 said the dead were a man and woman, a couple though unmarried.
UPDATE II: The police have identified the dead as Bobby Broadway Jr., 40, and Natasha Avery, 32, both of 1513 W. 33rd.
The bodies were found by a friend who'd visited the couple the night before, the police report said of the shooting. Animal control officers took custody of three pit bulls and six puppies found in the house. Nothing reported yet on motive.
Citizen, I think you have an insightful analysis and valid analogy here.
Boo. I like Hilary, but her and bill already have an airport and a library…
Doesn't that law refer to state-owned facilities, i.e., AGF wildlife areas, the Huckabuck everything named…
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