Saturday night line | Arkansas Blog

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Saturday night line

Posted By on Sat, Jul 28, 2012 at 4:24 PM

The line is open. Finishing up:

* DEATH SENTENCE: A jury in Paragould today sentenced Jerry Lard, 38, to death for the 2011 slaying of Trumann police officer Jonathan Schmidt. He also was sentenced to life for attempted capital murder of another officer and 10 years on a meth charge. Prosecutor Scott Ellington issued a news release after the verdict (jump).

* HOW HOT IS IT? Well, it was 108 at 2:30 p.m., a record by two degrees.

* POLICE BEAT: Police report finding the decomposing body of a man lying near railroad tracks about 10:30 a.m. this morning in the 3300 block of Woodrow. No further details.

DOUBLE HOMICIDE: Police say a man and woman were found dead this afternoon in an apparent double homicide in a home near 28th and Zion in the John Barrow Addition. Channel 7 says a child may also be missing from the home. UPDATE: police have issued an alert for a 12-year-old girl last seen Saturday morning. She is daughter of the slain couple, Bobby and Annette Whitlow, both 65.

Amber Whitlow was last seen wearing knee-length blue jean shorts and a light blue short-sleeve shift.
Police said she was possibly taken from the scene of a homicides.

Amber may be with her brother Antonio Whitlow, 33, of 2820 Zion St., Little Rock, in a 1990s four-door black or blue Lincoln with a chrome luggage rack, chrome trim and chrome wheels.

UPDATE: LRPD said late Saturday:

12 year Amber Whitlow and 33 year old Antonio Whitlow have been located in Memphis, TN.  Acting on information received, Memphis police officers located Antonio Whitlow and Amber Whitlow on foot near the Beale Street area of Memphis, TN.  Both Amber and Antonio are in police custody in Memphis.  Amber Whitlow does not show any signs of physical injury.  Little Rock detectives will be traveling to Memphis tonight to pick up both Amber and Antonio

Antonio Whitlow has been charged with murder in the case, the Democrat-Gazette reported.

Here's the police incident report. Sgt. Cassandra Davis said the child is back in Little Rock, in care of state officials. Antonio Whitlow is in Mempis pending extradition.


When the spouse of a law enforcement officer sends him or her off to begin their shift, they never know if they will see each other alive again. The most important job of a law enforcement officer is to return home safely to his or her family at the end of his or her shift.

I have attended 3 funerals for fallen officers since I was elected in 2010. I hope and pray that I never have to attend another. The citizens of the 2nd Judicial District can trust that if another law enforcement officer is killed in the line of duty while I am your prosecuting attorney, my office will pursue the death penalty against the responsible person or persons. My administration has and will continue to have an absolute zero tolerance policy for the unspeakable crime of murdering a police officer in the line of duty.

My decision to seek the death penalty in this case is one that did not come without a great amount of prayer and guidance. Capital punishment and the use of such is not something that I take lightly. In this particular case, I saw not other option. Not only did the defendant kill Trumann Police Officer Jonathan Schmidt, he came within inches of killing Sgt. Corey Overstreet in the same episode.

In my 20 years as a trial attorney, I have never heard a jury speak any louder or clearer than this Greene County jury did today. This jury spoke volumes with the punishment that they delivered today— a sentence of death. The jury echoed the commitment of the community to protect those who protect us. I am very proud of their courage and fortitude. I know it wasn't an easy decision, but it is one that had to be made. They jury is the conscience of the community, and I appreciate their sacrifice in serving in this 2 week trial, and for what I know had to be a difficult decision. We knew it would take all 12 jurors to impose the death sentence and they have done just that.

The State of Arkansas, and I speak for the State as the elected prosecutor for the 2nd Judicial District, believes Officer Jonathan Schmidt and his family now have justice for his murder and are a step closer to closure. The pain and suffering they have experienced a tremendous amount of pain and suffering. That pain and void that they have felt will never fully go away, but I pray that with the jury's decision that they will find peace. The family of Officer Schmidt are some of the finest and strongest people that I have ever had the privilege of meeting, and they will continue to be in my prayers.

I want to thank my team, Greene County Deputy Prosecutors Kimberly Dale and Dr. Andy Fulkerson; Poinsett County Deputy Prosecutors Jimmy Gazaway and David Boling; Our support staff: Zach Morrison, Liz Wagner, Robin Norman, and Investigator Allan Hicks. All have given 110 percent, and I could not be prouder of my deputy prosecutors and staff for their tireless work and effort in helping me achieve justice for Officer Schmidt and his family.

I also want to thank Poinsett County Judge Charles Nix, Poinsett County Sheriff Larry Mills, Craighead County Sheriff Jack McCann, Greene County Sheriff Dan Langston and all of their departments for the assistance they have provided throughout this long ordeal.

Poinsett County has went above and beyond the call of duty in helping to bring this murderer to trial and hold him responsible for his actions.

The Arkansas State Police and their expertise were so valuable in taking this case, investigating it, and pulling it together for the prosecution team. They turned over every rock and followed every possible lead to ensure that justice would be done for Officer Schmidt. Lead Investigator Special Agent Mike Grimes, Sgt. John Carter, Special Agents Ramey Lovan, Allen Earnhart and Tony Roe gave their all and I appreciate their service.

Most importantly, let us not forget about the true heroes in this, Officer Jonathan Schmidt and Sgt. Corey Overstreet, who put their lives on the line everyday to serve and protect the people of Trumann.

Officer Jonathan Schmidt made the ultimate sacrifice doing what he loved most, protecting and serving his community. His legacy and life that he gave unselfishly will never be forgotten.

In remembering Officer Schmidt and the sacrifice that he made, my mind was drawn to John 15:13:

"Greater love hath no than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

Officer Jonathan Schmidt, fallen but not forgotten. Thank you.

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