Arkansas Courts

A federal judge has ordered Arkansas to pay more than $25,000 in attorney's fees and costs for its unsuccessful bid to have the U.S. Supreme Court revive a 12-week abortion ban.

U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright on Friday ordered the state to pay $24,780 in attorney's fees and $748 in costs for its unsuccessful petition before the nation's highest court on the law. Wright struck down the law as unconstitutional in 2014 and a federal appeals court panel upheld Wright's decision last year.

Luther Sutter Dennis Milligan
KATV, Channel 7 News

Arkansas Treasurer Dennis Milligan and an attorney representing a former state employee in a defamation lawsuit have decided not to seek arrest warrants for each other related to their shoving match last month.

Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley says both Milligan and attorney Luther Sutter gave statements about the Feb. 9 incident and the office issued complaints against each of the men. Jegley says neither decided to seek charges.

Federal prosecutors say a former Arkansas circuit judge is switching legal arguments in an effort to withdraw his guilty plea and avoid sentencing in a federal bribery case.

Former Judge Michael Maggio admitted in January 2015 to allegations that he had accepted $50,000 in campaign donations from an unnamed nursing home owner and a lobbyist in exchange for reducing a $5.2 million jury award in a negligence case involving one of the nursing home owner's facilities.

wade naramore
Arkansas Times

The chief justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court has assigned a judge to preside over the case of a suspended judge who is charged in his son's death.

The Sentinel-Record reports that retired Circuit Judge John Langston will preside over Division 2 Circuit Judge Wade Naramore's trial.

William Asa Hutchinson III
Washington County Sheriff's Office

The son of Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has pleaded not guilty to a drunken driving charge.

The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that 40-year-old William Asa Hutchinson III of Rogers pleaded not guilty Monday in Fayetteville District Court. He also faces charges of careless driving and refusing to submit to a chemical test.

State Police say the governor's son was arrested Jan. 24 on Interstate 49 in Fayetteville by a trooper who responded to a single-vehicle crash and found the younger Hutchinson uninjured in the vehicle.

The next court hearing for a Searcy man accused of killing his 2-year-old son in 2014 has been delayed after his defense attorney requested a psychiatric evaluation of his client.

The Daily Citizen reports that Jeffery Clifton's next pretrial hearing had been scheduled for Monday, but all court appearances and motion requests have been put on hold due to defense attorney Ronald L. Davis' request.

Prosecutor Becky McCoy says it could be months before Clifton's next court appearance.

wade naramore
Garland Co. Sheriff's Office

The Arkansas Supreme Court has temporarily suspended a judge charged with negligent homicide in the death of his son, who was left in the back seat of a hot car last summer.

The Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission recommended earlier this week that Circuit Judge Wade Naramore be suspended with pay until the resolution of the criminal charge. The suspension will last through a separate commission investigation to determine if he is fit to serve.

Naramore's 18 month-old son died in July from excessive heat after being left in Naramore's car for about five hours.

A judicial ethics panel is asking to suspend an Arkansas judge charged with negligent homicide in the death of his son, who was left in the back seat of a hot car last summer.

The Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission voted Tuesday to recommend that the Arkansas Supreme Court suspend Circuit Judge Wade Naramore until the resolution of the charge, which was filed this month in the July death of his 18-month-old son. Naramore would also be suspended during an investigation by the commission to determine whether he violated judicial conduct and whether he is fit to serve.

A former central Arkansas circuit judge is asking a federal judge to allow him to withdraw his guilty plea on a federal bribery charge, two weeks before he is scheduled to be sentenced.

Attorney James Hensley wrote in a filing Friday that former judge Michael Maggio's previous attorneys had erred in advising him to plead guilty last year to the bribery charge. Hensley says there was no evidence the bribe involved government business as required under the charges.

Arron Lewis
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

A man convicted of capital murder and kidnapping in the death of a central Arkansas real estate agent has filed notice that he plans to appeal.

Arron Lewis was found guilty and sentenced to life without parole in the slaying of Beverly Carter after a four-day jury trial in January.

Prosecutors said Lewis targeted Carter in a failed ransom plot, taking her from a fake home showing. When police began looking for her and Lewis found out Carter had financial problems, prosecutors say Lewis smothered Carter with duct tape and buried her in a shallow grave.

Judge Arrested For Death Of Son Left In Hot Car

Feb 11, 2016
wade naramore
Arkansas Times

A special prosecutor issued an arrest warrant Thursday morning for Judge Wade Naramore in connection with the heat-related death of his toddler son, Thomas, who died after he was left in a vehicle July 2015.

KATV, Channel 7 News confirmed Naramore turned himself in to the Garland County Detention Center and was booked and released on $5,000 bond. Naramore is being charged with negligent homicide, a Class A misdemeanor.

Defense attorneys for an Arkansas teen charged in the shooting death of the couple who raised him as their grandson say they plan to ask for the case to be moved to juvenile court.

During a pre-trial hearing for now 15-year-old Justin Staton in Faulkner County Circuit Court, his attorneys said depending on several discovery requests, they plan to file the motion to move Staton to juvenile court. Prosecutors charged Staton as an adult with capital murder in the shooting deaths of Robert and Patricia Cogdell last July.

An Arkansas man convicted of rape and attempted murder has been sentenced to life in prison plus 60 years after asking jurors to give him the maximum sentence.

Larry Lavelle Jones was accused of raping and trying to kill a 66-year-old woman in the parking lot of the Hot Springs Mall in 2014. The 37-year-old from Malvern apologized to the victim during court proceedings Tuesday and told jurors to "go ahead with whatever the maximum is."

Opening arguments and testimony are set to begin in the trial of a Texarkana woman accused of killing a fellow square dancer in 2013.

The Texarkana Gazette reports that testimony is scheduled to begin Tuesday morning in the trial of 67-year-old Virginia Hyatt. Hyatt is charged with capital murder for the death of 59-year-old Patricia Wheelington. Hyatt has pleaded not guilty.

Former Bank Executive Dennis Smiley Sentenced To 97 Months For Fraud

Jan 28, 2016
dennis smiley
Arkansas Business

Former Arvest Bank banker Dennis Smiley will spend the next eight years in federal prison for the bank fraud he committed with 24 banks while obtaining 55 loans and wrongly using three of his subordinates and forging the names of his father and wife.

A northeast Arkansas prosecutor is seeking the death penalty against a man charged in the abduction and slaying of a 90-year-old Bay woman. 

Arron Lewis
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

The estranged wife of the man charged with capital murder and kidnapping in the death of an Arkansas real estate agent has told a jury the couple decided to kill the woman because they didn't want to get caught.

Crystal Lowery told jurors Thursday that her husband Arron Lewis had killed Beverly Carter in 2014. She says she had asked him to leave her home and that she agreed to help with the kidnapping to help him raise enough money to move out.

Arron Lewis
KATV, Channel 7 News

An Arkansas prosecutor told jurors that a man killed a real estate agent when a ransom plan began to fall through, though his defense attorney maintains the death was an accident.

Pulaski County Deputy Prosecutor Barbara Mariani said during her opening statement Wednesday that Arron Lewis targeted Beverly Carter.

Mariani said Lewis and his wife lured Carter to a rural home outside Little Rock and tried to demand a ransom from her husband, but when the plan started to unravel, Lewis killed Carter by wrapping her head in duct tape.

Little Rock School District buses

The Arkansas Supreme Court says it won't reconsider its decision that the state Department of Education can't be sued over its takeover of the Little Rock School District.

Justices on Thursday denied a petition to rehear its October ruling granting the state's appeal of a lower court's decision. A Pulaski County Circuit Court judge in March denied the state's request to dismiss the lawsuit, ruling the state could be sued for its decision to take over the Little Rock district and dissolve its school board.

The state Supreme Court overturned that ruling.

Circuit Judge Wade Naramore

Substitute judges have been assigned to cover for Garland County Circuit Judge Wade Naramore since the summer death of his 1-year-old son.

The Sentinel-Record reports that Naramore hasn't presided over the Division 2 court since July 24. Naramore's son died July 24 from "excessive heat" after being left unattended in a hot car for an unknown amount of time.

Naramore has since been the subject an investigation led by Special Prosecutor Scott Ellington, which Ellington says could be concluded by the end of the month.

Arron Lewis
KATV, Channel 7 News

A judge has ruled that a jury can hear a recording of an Arkansas real estate agent asking her husband to follow ransom instructions recorded days before she was found dead by police.

Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Herbert Wright ruled Tuesday on several challenges to evidence prosecutors planned to present at Arron Lewis's trial next week.

Lewis is charged with capital murder and kidnapping in the death of real estate agent Beverly Carter.

Beverly Carter
Pulaski County Sheriff's Office

A Pulaski County judge has ruled that evidence found in the car of a man charged in the death of a central Arkansas real estate agent cannot be introduced at trial.

Circuit Court Judge Herbert Wright said in a ruling late Wednesday that the evidence taken from Arron Lewis' car was obtained using an overly broad search warrant, not during an inventory of items when the car was impounded. Lewis is charged with kidnapping and capital murder in the 2014 killing of Beverly Carter.

The Arkansas Court of Appeals has denied an appeal from a man convicted of raping an 11-year-old girl who was later found dead in a drainage ditch.

The court ruled Wednesday that it wasn't improper for a judge to deny Freddie Sharp access to State Crime Laboratory files and other material because he refused to sign a protective order. The court said Sharp could have used the material in court if he'd signed the agreement not to publicly release it.

Arron Lewis
KATV, Channel 7 News

Attorneys for a man charged in the death of a central Arkansas real estate agent say a judge should not reconsider excluding evidence seized from his car.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Herbert Wright had ruled that the evidence was inadmissible because investigators relied on an overly broad search warrant to obtain it. Attorneys for Arron Lewis, who is charged with capital murder and kidnapping in the 2014 slaying of Beverly Carter, say the state cannot prove the evidence was collected during an impound-lot inventory of the car.

File photo. Construction of Big River Steel plant in Mississippi County.

The state Court of Appeals has rejected a steel company's attempt to block the air permit for a rival's $1.3 billion mill under construction in northeast Arkansas.

The court on Wednesday upheld the Pollution Control and Ecology Commission's decision to issue the permit for the Big River Steel mill in Osceola.

The Arkansas Supreme Court kept the state from having to disclose where it gets its three execution drugs on Friday, temporarily putting on hold a lower-court's order to make that information public. It's the latest in the long, multifaceted legal battle over the constitutionality of Arkansas' execution law.

Here are key dates to know:

Nov. 28, 2005 - Eric Nance, convicted of killing an 18-year-old woman, is the last person to be executed in Arkansas before the legal wrangling begins.

Police say the ex-girlfriend of a man facing capital murder charges in the death of his son was released on her own recognizance because of medical reasons.

They gave no details. Court officials say Lesley Marcotte will likely have a first court appearance Friday.

Pulaski County Judge Wendell Griffen

A state judge has struck down a portion of Arkansas' law that keeps confidential the source of its execution drugs.

Pulaski County District Court Wendell Griffen also ruled Thursday that the state must disclose details of the drugs by noon Friday. 

He sided with death row inmates who challenged a law passed by legislators this year that shielded the identity of drug suppliers. 

Boxer Jermain Taylor Changes Pleas To Guilty In Three Cases

Dec 1, 2015
Jermain Taylor
KATV, Channel 7 News

Boxing champion Jermain Taylor appeared in court Tuesday morning, changing his pleas to guilty in three cases in which he is charged.

Former Banker Dennis Smiley Sentencing Set For Jan. 21

Nov 30, 2015
dennis smiley
Arkansas Business

Former Arvest Bank President for Benton County H. Dennis Smiley Jr., will be sentenced Jan. 21 at the Judge Isaac Parker Federal Courthouse in Fort Smith. U.S. District Court Judge P.K. Holmes III signed the sentencing notice on Nov. 23.

Smiley’s sentence is anybody’s guess. Judge Holmes can defer from the sentencing guidelines. Federal sentencing guidelines indicate that Smiley could face a maximum sentence of 71-months, but it’s more likely the sentencing will be less.