Jury set for Tim Howard murder retrial | Arkansas Blog

Friday, April 24, 2015

Jury set for Tim Howard murder retrial

Posted By on Fri, Apr 24, 2015 at 5:44 PM

click to enlarge TIM HOWARD - MARA LEVERITT
  • Mara Leveritt
  • TIM HOWARD
Mara Leveritt reports from Ashdown on the murder trial of Tim Howard, former Death Row inmate:

A jury of six men and six women was seated today for the trial of Tim Howard which is to begin Monday. In a subsequent pretrial hearing, for which the jury was not present, Circuit Judge Charles Yeargan denied the motion filed last week by Howard's attorney that had sought dismissal of the charges against Howard due to alleged prosecutor misconduct.

"I don't find any merit to your motion, " Yeargan told Patrick Benca. In the motion, Benca had complained that Prosecutor Bryan Chesshir had on at least a few occasions questioned two witnesses together. Benca argued that under Arkansas law, "you can't do that. "

Chesshir vigorously rejected the claim, telling the court that "this motion was filed to discredit me as a prosecutor just as we are getting ready to try the biggest case this county has seen in the past 18 years."

The disagreement grew heated. At one point, the court reporter asked the attorneys for silence because she could not hear "when everyone is speaking at once." At another, Benca asked, "that the record reflect that Mr. Chesshir is screaming in here."

Yeargan, looking like a weary parent, told the attorneys to "hush" and use their "indoor" voices.

Emotions ran high because attorneys on both sides of the case felt insulted. Chesshir complained that Benca had characterized him as a "crook," and Benca reacted to Chesshir's charge that his motion was filed unethically, "strictly for purposes of publicity."

"I'm not finding you to be unethical, Mr. Benca," Judge Yeargan said. "And Mr. Chesshir, I'm not finding you to be a crook."

Howard was convicted of killing Brian and Shannon Day in Little River County in 1997. His conviction was eventually overturned because a prosecutor had withheld lab evidence about DNA in the case. It's been the subject of several reports over the years in the Arkansas Times.

This writer's reports on the case arose as an issue during both jury selection and the hearing that followed. Chesshir noted that all potential jurors were asked if they read the Arkansas Times on paper or online. Several said they did, Cheshire said, "and I asked that every one of them be struck, due to the slanted nature of the way that paper is printed."

While Yeargan has allowed me to remain in the court room, despite the possibility that the prosecutor may call me as a witness, my role in this trial is contentious.

As I intend to continue to report on it, I will take this opportunity to alert readers to my related interest and involvement in this case, which I have covered for the past 13 years.

Over that time, Tim Howard and I have become friends, a fact I have previously acknowledged in print. A member of my family has also befriended Howard and his wife Vicky.

When Vickie Howard was subpoenaed for questioning by Chesshir, that relative paid to have an attorney accompany her – a point that the prosecutor raised in court today. (I also hired an attorney to be present when Chesshir subpoenaed me for an interview, and to contest a second subpoena that could have kept me from being able to report on the case.)

I relate this so readers will know where I stand in order to draw their own conclusions about my credibility.

The short of it is that the second trial of a man who has spent almost 18 years under a sentence of death is about to begin, and, as it happens, the only reporter in the courtroom today was the one who writes for you here, under these unlikely circumstances.

Tags: , , , , , ,


Sign up for the Daily Update email
Favorite

Comments (5)

Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

More by Mara Leveritt

  • Who's afraid of Barry Seal?

    The 'true lie' behind Tom Cruise's new film on the notorious drug-trafficker-turned-federal-informant who operated out of Arkansas.
    • Sep 28, 2017
  • Illustrating the governor's message

    Our prisons burst with disparities. Eliminating them will take courage. Let's see if the Arkansas Parole Board can heed the governor's message with one matter currently before it.
    • Dec 3, 2015
  • Mara Leveritt offers governor a symbol for sentencing reform

    Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the state needs to get serious about sentencing reform if it is to cope with its exploding prison population.
    • Dec 1, 2015
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Former Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel applauds Trump's EPA choice of climate change denier Scott Pruitt

    Dustin McDaniel gives the thumbs up to a man set to dismantle EPA regulations.
    • Dec 8, 2016
  • From Russia with love: A manipulated Arkansas photograph becomes election fake news

    The Wall Street Journal reports here on how Russian troll farms have exploited cracks in social media for propaganda purposes, appropriating images for re-use in their disinformation campaigns. Arkansas angle:
    • Feb 23, 2018
  • Trump immigration protest at LR: Quick and fierce

    It was not even 24 hours ago that Sophia Said, director of the Interfaith Center; City Director Kathy Webb and others decided to organize a protest today of Donald Trump's executive order that has left people from Muslim countries languishing in airports or unable to come to the US at all — people with visas, green cards,a  post-doc graduate student en route to Harvard, Google employees abroad, families. I got the message today before noon; others didn't find out until it was going on. But however folks found out, they turned out in huge numbers, more than thousand men, women and children, on the grounds of the state Capitol to listen to speakers from all faiths and many countries.
    • Jan 29, 2017

Most Viewed

  • Lies, damn lies and statistics: The school score edition

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's veteran education reporter, Cynthia Howell, reported this morning on public school adjustment to the third year of using a new standardized test for judging school performance. A key factor was missing in the discussion.
  • Trump Tweets threat to Iran

    Donald Trump declared a Twitter war on Iran Sunday night. He's angry about the FISA warrant information, too, which didn't help his cause.
  • Corruption probe nets another guilty plea, implicates another senator

    Jerry Walsh, 72, who ran the now-defunct South Arkansas Youth Services, has pleaded guilty to paying $120,000 to an unnamed Arkansas state senator in return for action favorable to the agency, Walsh and others.He pleaded guilty today in federal court in El Dorado. The scheme altogether diverted $380,000 in public money.
  • The Mondo Trumpe open line

    A world of the dogs? Check out Trump's latest poll ratings.

Most Recent Comments

Slideshows

 

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation