Associated Press

The Associated Press is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering, supplying a steady stream of news to its members, international subscribers and commercial customers. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, it's a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members.

Leslie Rutledge
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas's attorney general is accusing a Hot Springs woman of taking part in a multi-million dollar scheme to defraud people by falsely telling them they had won a jackpot or lottery.

On Wednesday, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge sued 74-year-old Jean Butler, who Rutledge said acted as a "money mule" and received money from victims of the scheme. Victims were told they had to pay taxes or fees before receiving their prize.

University of Arkansas

One of the country's most revered novelists has died.

Charles Portis, best known for "True Grit," was 86. His fans included Tom Wolfe, Roy Blount Jr. and Larry McMurtry, and he was often compared to Mark Twain for his plainspoken humor and wry perspective.

Portis saw the world from the ground up, from bars and shacks and trailer homes, and few spun wilder and funnier stories. In such Portis novels as "True Girt" and "Norwood," characters embarked on journeys that took the most unpredictable detours.

"True Grit" was twice made into a feature film.

Arkansas Works Governor Asa Hutchinson Work Requirement
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A federal appeals court panel in Washington has upheld a lower court's decision that blocked the Trump administration's work requirements for Medicaid recipients.

Friday's decision from a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., found the Arkansas work requirements for Medicaid recipients to be “arbitrary and capricious.”

The Trump administration has allowed states to require able-bodied adults drawing Medicaid benefits to work, volunteer or study. Officials argue that work can make people healthier.

Ten Commandments Jason Rapert
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

A trial seeking the removal of a privately funded Ten Commandments monument from the Arkansas Capitol grounds is set to begin this summer. 

U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker on Monday ordered the trial over the privately funded monument to begin the week of July 13.

Opponents of the monument sued the state over the display, arguing it's an unconstitutional endorsement of religion by government.

The granite monument replaces a display that was destroyed in 2017 less than 24 hours after its installation.

Forrest City Walmart shooting
KATV-Channel 7

Two police officers were wounded and a gunman was killed Monday morning in an exchange of gunfire at a Walmart store in Forrest City in eastern Arkansas, authorities said.

Forrest City Police Chief Deon Lee said one of the officers was taken to a hospital about 45 miles to the east in Memphis where he was in surgery, and the initial prognosis is “he’s going to be OK.”

Patricia Young, sister of executed inmate Ledell Lee (left), speaks to reporters during a press conference on Jan. 24 announcing the legal challenge to seek DNA testing that she argued could exonerate her brother.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

An Arkansas judge has approved an agreement that will allow new tests of fingerprint and DNA evidence that two groups say could exonerate a man executed in 2017.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen approved the agreement between the city of Jacksonville and the sister of Ledell Lee, who was executed for the 1993 slaying of Debra Reese.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Innocence Project had sued the city seeking the release of the evidence.

Former Arkansas governor and senator David Pryor and his son, former senator Mark Pryor, are supporting Joe Biden's bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The former vice president's campaign announced the endorsements from the Pryors on Tuesday.

Arkansas is holding its primary on March 3 along with more than a dozen other states.

David Pryor served as Arkansas governor from 1975 to 1979 and went on to serve three terms in the U.S. Senate. Mark Pryor served two terms in the Senate before losing re-election in 2014.

Ledell Lee Patricia Young
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Two groups sued a central Arkansas city on Thursday seeking the release of evidence they say could exonerate an inmate who was executed nearly three years ago.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Innocence Project asked a state judge to order Jacksonville authorities to release fingerprint tests and DNA evidence they say supports claims that Ledell Lee was innocent of the 1993 murder of Debra Reese. The groups filed the lawsuit on behalf of Patricia Young, Lee’s sister.

Linda Collins and Rebecca O'Donnell
Facebook

A woman charged with killing a former Arkansas state lawmaker faced new charges Tuesday alleging that she asked fellow inmates to kill the victim's ex-husband.

Rebecca Lynn O'Donnell, who has pleaded not guilty to capital murder in the killing of former state Sen. Linda Collins, was charged with two counts of criminal solicitation to commit capital murder and two counts of criminal solicitation to commit tampering with physical evidence.

Karl Roberts
Arkansas Department of Correction

An Arkansas death row inmate convicted of killing a state lawmaker's daughter is arguing he should not be executed because he was diagnosed with schizophrenia.

The Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday heard arguments over Karl Roberts' appeal of his conviction and death sentence in the 1999 killing of 12-year-old niece,

Andi Brewer. An attorney for Roberts told the Arkansas justices that the inmate's schizophrenia made him unable to effectively assist defense attorneys during his 2000 trial because he believed that jailers were secretly recording him.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen taking part in an anti-death penalty demonstration in front of the Arkansas Governor's Mansion in April 2017.
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

The Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday rejected the state attorney general's request to prohibit a judge who demonstrated against the death penalty from handling any cases involving her office.

In a 4-3 decision, justices rejected the request by Attorney General Leslie Rutledge to remove the cases from Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen's court. The court did not elaborate on how it reached its decision in a one-page order.

Arkansas finance office says higher than expected sales and income tax collections in November kept the state's revenue above forecast and above the same month last year.

The Department of Finance and Administration on Tuesday said the state's net available revenue in November totaled $431.8 million. That's $24.7 million above the same month last year and $15.3 million above forecast.

The state's net available revenue so far for the fiscal year that began July 1 totaled $2.4 billion, which is $87.5 million above forecast.

Paul Petersen
You Tube

An Arizona official charged with running an adoption-fraud scheme involving women from the Marshall Islands has asked an Arkansas court to delay trial for 10 months.

Maricopa County Assessor Paul Petersen is accused of smuggling and paying pregnant women from the small nation in the western Pacific to give up their children for adoption in the U.S. He faces 62 charges in Arkansas, Arizona and Utah.

Rusty Cranford
Arkansas Nonprofit News Network

A lobbyist who pleaded guilty to bribing three former Arkansas state lawmakers, including the governor's nephew, has been sentenced to seven years in prison without parole.

Rusty Cranford was sentenced in federal court Monday for bribing Republican state Sen. Jon Woods, Democratic state Rep. Hank Wilkins and Republican state Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson. Prosecutors say Cranford paid the bribes to benefit the Missouri-based nonprofit Preferred Family HealthCare, whose former executives also face charges.

Linda Collins and Rebecca O'Donnell
Facebook

A judge has set a fall 2020 trial date for a woman charged with killing a former Arkansas state lawmaker who was found dead outside her home.

Jonesboro television station KAIT report s that the judge on Friday scheduled Rebecca Lynn O'Donnell's trial to begin Oct. 19. She is charged with capital murder in the death of former Republican state Sen. Linda Collins.

Nkiruka Azuka Omeronye
Arkansas Times

An Arkansas judge ordered a journalist be released after she served a few hours of her three-day sentence for recording proceedings in a homicide case.

Benton County Circuit Judge Brad Karren sentenced Nkiruka Azuka Omeronye Tuesday for contempt of court. The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports she was released Wednesday.

Omeronye, a KNWA TV reporter, admitted to making an audio recording during a hearing in Mauricio Torres' capital murder case last month. She testified that she recorded to ensure she took accurate notes.

Danny Lee at an arraignment hearing on Oct. 31, 1997 for the murders of members of a Russellville family. A federal judge Tuesday denied a request for a new trial.
The Russellville Courier

A federal judge has temporarily halted the first federal execution in 16 years as a lawsuit on how the government intends to carry it out continues.

U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutka said in a Wednesday evening ruling that the public is not served by "short-circuiting" legitimate judicial process.

"It is greatly served by attempting to ensure that the most serious punishment is imposed lawfully," she wrote.

Nkirurka Omeronge
Arkansas Times

An Arkansas county judge has sentenced a television reporter to three days in jail for recording a hearing in a homicide case.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that Benton County Circuit Judge Brad Karren sentenced KNWA reporter Nkirurka Omeronge on Tuesday. Karren found her in contempt of court during Mauricio Torres' capital murder proceedings last month.

Little rock school district
Chris Banks / KUAR News

Little Rock teachers are striking for the first time in more than three decades over the state's control of the local school system and a panel's decision to strip their union's collective bargaining rights.

Members of the Little Rock Education Association are picketing across the 23,000-school district on Thursday in what's being billed as a one-day strike to protest Arkansas' takeover of the local system. Arkansas has run the school district since 2015, when it was taken over because of low scores at several schools.

Kelly Connelly / KUAR News

An Arkansas state legislator announced a bid Tuesday to unseat a Republican congressman in 2020 as the filing period for next year's election came to a close.

Democratic state Sen. Joyce Elliott is the only Democrat who filed to run against Republican Rep. French Hill, who was first elected to the 2nd Congressional District in 2014.

Elliott said she believes the district, which includes Little Rock, could be competitive for Democrats.

flickr.com

A federal appeals court has upheld a judge's ruling against an Arkansas anti-loitering law that opponents say unfairly targets panhandlers.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday upheld a federal judge's preliminary injunction against the 2017 law, which expands the definition of loitering to include anyone asking for charity or a gift in a harassing or threatening manner that's likely to cause others alarm or create a traffic hazard. A federal judge in 2017 called the measure "plainly unconstitutional."

Arkansas finance office says the state's revenue remains above forecast and above the same point last year.

The Department of Finance and Administration on Monday said Arkansas' net available revenue in October totaled $470.9 million, which is $35.5 million above the same month last year and $33.3 million above forecast. The state's net available revenue for the fiscal year that began July 1 is $1.9 billion, which is $72.2 million above forecast.

John Walker
Arkansas Times

The body of lawmaker and civil rights attorney John Walker will lie in state at Arkansas' capitol as part of his funeral arrangements this week.

Secretary of State John Thurston announced that Walker's body will lie in state at the Capitol on Thursday from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. on the second-floor rotunda. Walker, 82, died at his Little Rock home on Monday.

The funeral for Walker is scheduled for St. Mark Baptist Church in Little Rock, Arkansas, at 11 a.m. Friday.

Little Rock School District buses
Wikipedia

Little Rock's school district is bracing for the possibility of its first strike in decades because a state panel this month voted to strip the local teachers union of its collective bargaining power.

The Little Rock Education Association's contract with the 23,000-student district ends on Thursday, and the state Board of Education earlier this month voted to no longer recognize the association as the district's sole bargaining agent after that date.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen taking part in an anti-death penalty demonstration in front of the Arkansas Governor's Mansion in April 2017.
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

The Arkansas Supreme Court says it won't reconsider a request by a judge who demonstrated against the death penalty to resume hearing execution cases.

Justices on Thursday denied Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen's request that the court take another look at its Sept. 19 ruling that the judge is still barred from handling execution cases. Griffen was disqualified from execution cases in April 2017 after he was photographed at a demonstration the same day he blocked Arkansas from using a lethal injection drug.

The University of Arkansas at Monticello says its chancellor will resign at the end of the semester as the school faces a budget deficit amid a large drop in student enrollment.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Monday that Karla Hughes will resign on Dec. 31 after three years leading the school. She is the first woman to lead a four-year University of Arkansas System school.

Gregg Reep, who chairs the school's board of visitors, says the administration told the board that it expects there to be a $1 million to $2 million budget shortfall.

Dr. Lonnie Joseph Parker
KATV-Channel 7

A doctor from southwest Arkansas has been arrested on charges of overprescribing opiates and other drugs.

Federal prosecutors announced Tuesday the arrest of Dr. Lonnie Joseph Parker and unsealed a grand jury indictment charging the Texarkana, Arkansas, physician with nine counts of prescribing without a legitimate medical purpose. Jordan is to appear in court Wednesday.

Vaping
ecigarettereviewed.com / Wikimedia Commons

An Arkansas teenager who began vaping last year is suing a leading e-cigarette maker, accusing the company of deceptive marketing and fraudulently concealing the addictive nature of its products.

The unnamed teenager and his mother filed the lawsuit against Juul Labs, Inc. last week in federal court in Little Rock and are seeking class action status on behalf of all Arkansas residents who bought or used Juul's products. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.

Calvin Adams
Department of Correction

A convicted killer who disappeared from an Arkansas prison has been found hiding on its roof.

Arkansas Department of Corrections spokeswoman Dina Tyler says authorities found inmate Calvin Adams on Tuesday hiding underneath a large ventilation hood on the roof of the East Arkansas Regional Unit in Brickeys, about 110 miles east of Little Rock.

Tyler says Adams had apparently been hiding on the roof since he went missing early Monday. She says he managed to climb onto the roof but was stranded because there was nowhere else to go.

Calvin Adams
Department of Correction

Arkansas prison officials are unsure whether a convicted murderer they reported missing from a prison has left the facility's grounds.

Arkansas Department of Correction Spokeswoman Dina Tyler said Monday authorities are unsure whether Calvin Adams has gotten past the electric fence of the East Arkansas Regional Unit in the community of Brickeys. It's located about 110 miles east of Little Rock.

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