Associated Press

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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.

Wendell Griffen
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

An Arkansas judge who demonstrated against the death penalty is asking the state Supreme Court to dismiss the attorney general's request to prohibit the judge from hearing cases involving her office.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen told the state Supreme Court Thursday that the request by Attorney General Leslie Rutledge to reassign the civil cases is a "blatant attempt" to defy Arkansas' constitution and its process for investigating complaints against judges. Rutledge has accused Griffen of regularly demonstrating bias against her staff in his court.

Central High School
nps.gov / National Park Service

A plan to only grant Little Rock partial control of its schools is drawing complaints that the district may further segregate 62 years after nine black students were escorted into an all-white Central High School.

Arkansas has been in control of the 23,000-student district since January 2015, and a plan approved by the state Board of Education would return limited control of some schools to a local board that will be elected next year. While many details of the plan remain unclear, it has prompted comparisons by opponents to the 1957 crisis over Little Rock Central's integration.

Arkansas' attorney general is asking the state Supreme Court to reassign cases involving her office from a judge who has been prohibited from handling execution cases, accusing him of regularly being biased against her staff.

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge on Tuesday requested that the court reassign the civil cases from Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen. He was prohibited from handling execution cases in 2017 after he participated in an anti-death penalty demonstration the same day he blocked Arkansas from using a lethal injection drug.

Rep. Mickey Gates
www.arkansashouse.org

The Arkansas House will meet next month to consider whether to remove a lawmaker who pleaded no contest to not paying state income taxes.

House officials announced Tuesday the chamber will meet Oct. 11 on the resolution calling for removal of Republican Rep. Mickey Gates. He was arrested last year and charged with not filing returns from 2012 through 2017.

As part of an agreement with prosecutors, Gates in July pleaded no contest to one count of not filing or paying income taxes. He was ordered to serve six months' probation and repay Arkansas.

Rep. Mickey Gates
www.arkansashouse.org

Arkansas' House speaker has taken the first step toward removing a lawmaker who pleaded no contest to not paying state income taxes and who has refused to step down.

Speaker Matthew Shepherd on Friday filed a resolution to remove fellow Republican Rep. Mickey Gates, who was arrested last year and charged with not filing returns from 2012 through 2017. As part of a plea agreement with prosecutors, Gates in July pleaded no contest to one count of not filing or paying income taxes.

File photo. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge (R).
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas's attorney general is seeking to move lawsuits challenging a measure giving the prison director authority to determine an inmate's competency to be executed to federal court.

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge on Thursday filed notice to move the lawsuits by death row inmates Bruce Ward and Jack Greene from Jefferson County Circuit Court. The state Supreme Court in November struck down an earlier version of the mental competency law.

Legislators this year approved a reworked version of the law, and the inmates are seeking to have it overturned.

Jason Rapert Ten 10 Commandments
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A federal judge is temporarily restricting who can see the video deposition of a legislator who sponsored a measure requiring a Ten Commandments statue at the Arkansas Capitol in a lawsuit challenging the monument.

U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker issued a temporary order Wednesday preventing additional copies of state Sen. Jason Rapert's deposition from being made or distributed. An attorney for Rapert, a Republican who sponsored the 2015 law requiring the privately funded monument, had asked that the video only be available to attorneys in the case.

A parent-led booster club supporting an Arkansas school district that was the site of a 1998 shooting is drawing criticism for its plans to auction off an AR-15 rifle.

The fundraiser is to raise money so Westside High School's band can go to Florida for a performance.

In 1998, four students and one teacher were killed when two students, then ages 11 and 13, opened fire at Westside Middle School near Jonesboro. One shooter, Andrew Golden, later changed his name to Drew Grant and died in a car crash earlier this summer.

Walmart says it will discontinue the sale of handgun ammunition and also publicly request that customers refrain from openly carrying firearms in stores even where state laws allow it.

The announcement comes just days after a mass shooting claimed seven lives in Odessa, Texas and follows two other back-to-back shootings last month, one of them at a Walmart store.

Elaine Race Massacre
Arkansas State Archives

Officials are investigating after someone cut down a willow tree that was planted to honor the victims of the 1919 Elaine massacre in eastern Arkansas.

The Elaine Legacy Center says the tree was chopped down at its base last week and a memorial tag was stolen. Memphis, Tennessee, television station WMC reports that police and state parks officials are investigating.

Arkansas State Police say a man who had barricaded himself inside a home and held a 9-year-old at gunpoint was shot dead by a trooper.

State Police said 49-year-old William Lloyd Jones was shot early Thursday morning after the State Police SWAT team entered the home and rescued the child. They say a trooper fired at Jones after he pointed a gun at troopers.

Former Arkansas state Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson arriving in court Tuesday for a pre-trial hearing in his corruption case.
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

An orthodontist who operated several clinics in Arkansas has been charged in a bribery scheme involving a former state senator who acknowledged accepting thousands of dollars in exchange for efforts to change a dental practices law.

Prosecutors announced Monday that a federal grand jury has indicted Benjamin Gray Burris on 14 count of honest services wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud for the scheme involving former Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson.

Mike Laux Lloyd St. Clair Benjamin Crump No knock raids police
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Attorneys have filed four new federal lawsuits alleging that Little Rock's use of no-knock warrants in police drug raids violated the U.S. Constitution.

Civil rights attorneys Benjamin Crump and Mike Laux said Thursday the lawsuits against the City of Little Rock and officers with the Little Rock Police Department demonstrate police falsely obtained affidavits and were unreasonable in searches of residences.

Jake Files
Arkansas Times

A federal judge has denied a former Arkansas state senator's request to be released from a federal prison in Oklahoma where he has served just more than one year of an 18-month prison term for fraud and money laundering.

Republican Jake Files of Fort Smith filed the request last Friday, one year after reporting to the prison in El Reno, Oklahoma, to serve his sentence .

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