Arkansas Crime

University of Arkansas at Little Rock School of Criminal Justice and Criminology Director Dr. Tusty Ten Bensel and Graduate Coordinator Dr. Robert Lytle will oversee the study of hate crimes against Muslims in Arkansas.
Zoom

The National Science Foundation is funding a three-year program to study hate crimes committed against Muslims in Arkansas. Two criminal justice professors at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock have been awarded a $324,987 grant, which will enable an assessment of anti-Muslim sentiments.

Salfalko / Creative Commons

Last year, Pulaski County became one of seven counties nationwide selected to take part in a program designed to improve the pre-trial aspects of the justice system. The program focuses on decisions made before a defendant comes to trial—whether a police officer issues a citation or makes an arrest, for example—or whether a judge decides to release the accused on bail or make them wait in jail.

Linda Collins and Rebecca O'Donnell
Facebook

Rebecca O’Donnell pleaded guilty Thursday in the death of former Arkansas state Sen. Linda Collins and was sentenced to 50 years in prison. The plea deal includes charges of first-degree murder, abuse of a corpse and two no-contest pleas to solicit murder in Jackson County.

O’Donnell had worked for Smith in her business ventures and on political campaigns. Had she not accepted the deal, O’Donnell was facing a potential death sentence if the case went to trial. 

Daniel Lewis Lee, seen here at an arraignment hearing on Oct. 31, 1997, was convicted in the deaths of an Arkansas family as part of a plot to set up a whites-only nation in the Pacific Northwest.
Russellville Courier

A U.S. district judge on Monday ordered a new delay in federal executions, hours before the first lethal injection was scheduled to be carried out at a federal prison in Indiana. The Trump administration immediately appealed to a higher court, asking that the executions move forward.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan said there are still legal issues to resolve and that "the public is not served by short-circuiting legitimate judicial process." The executions, pushed by the Trump administration, would be the first carried out at the federal level since 2003.

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.

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.”

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.

A former lobbyist who pleaded guilty as part of a corruption investigation that ensnared several Arkansas state lawmakers is to be sentenced Monday. Rusty Cranford could face up to 10 years in federal prison, but his defense attorney says Cranford’s cooperation with investigators should weigh heavily with the judge.

Since pleading guilty to a federal bribery charge in June 2018, Cranford has repeatedly met with investigators and appeared before federal grand juries.

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.

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.

Kandi Hause, victim services program supervisor for the Little Rock Police Department, inside the soft interview room at the 12th Street Substation.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A police station can be an uncomfortable place for victims of violent crimes to be questioned after a traumatic incident. But a newly-furnished room at the Little Rock Police Department’s 12th Street Substation is designed to make people feel as relaxed as possible given the circumstances.

The "soft interview room" has features that are more like what would be found in a living room. It includes a large leather couch, soft arm chairs, sound proof curtains and paintings on the wall. Police Chief Keith Humphrey says the comfortable setting can aid investigations.

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.

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.

Rep. Mickey Gates
www.arkansashouse.org

Arkansas Speaker of the House Matthew Shepherd on Friday said he is taking the rare action to remove a colleague from a House seat.

Shepherd, R-El Dorado, wrote a letter to House members explaining that he intends to put forth a resolution calling for the “immediate removal” of Rep. Mickey Gates, R-Hot Springs, from the chamber. Gates pleaded last month no contest to not paying state income taxes and worked out an agreement to pay part of what he owed.

The Department of Justice has scheduled executions for five federal inmates in December and January, including Daniel Lewis Lee, convicted in 1999 of murdering a family in Pope County, Arkansas. The executions are to be the first by the U.S. government since 2003.

Lee’s execution, set for Dec. 9, is to be the first of the five and was ordered by U.S. Attorney General William Barr to adopt an addendum to the Federal Execution Protocol.

Linda Collins-Smith
Arkansas Legislature

A new judge has been named to handle the case surrounding the killing of a former Arkansas lawmaker who was found dead outside her home.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Dan Kemp on Thursday named retired Circuit Judge David Goodson to preside over the case involving the killing of former Sen. Linda Collins. Judge Harold Erwin had been presiding over the case and the order said he requested the reassignment but doesn't say why.

Rebecca Becky Lynn O'Donnell being escorted into the Randolph County Courthouse Monday where she was formally charged with capital murder in the death of former Arkansas state Sen. Linda Collins.
KAIT-TV / Twitter

An Arkansas woman has been charged with capital murder in the killing of a former state senator whose body was found outside her own home.

A state judge also found probable cause Monday to charge 48-year-old Rebecca Lynn O'Donnell with abuse of a corpse and tampering with physical evidence, Jonesboro television station KAIT reported . The judge did not set bond for O'Donnell, who was arrested Friday in former Sen. Linda Collins' death.

Authorities haven't said how Collins was killed.

Missy Irvin
KARK-TV

The family of a former Arkansas lawmaker whose body was found at her home last week say they're saddened and angered by her death, and are confident authorities are using all their resources to solve her killing.

Dozens of Arkansas lawmakers and others gathered at the state Capitol on Tuesday to remember former state Sen. Linda Collins, whose death is being investigated as a homicide. The body of Collins, who went by Collins-Smith in the Legislature, was found June 4 outside her home in Pocahontas, about 130 miles (210 kilometers) northeast of Little Rock.

Linda Collins-Smith
Arkansas Legislature

A remembrance is set for Tuesday at the Arkansas State Capitol for former state Sen. Linda Collins-Smith. Her body was found last Tuesday at her home in Pocahontas and police are treating the death as a homicide.

Linda Collins-Smith
Arkansas Legislature

Authorities in Arkansas have confirmed that a body found outside the home of a former state legislator is hers and say they're investigating the case as a homicide.

Arkansas State Police said Thursday that the medical examiner confirmed former Sen. Linda Collins-Smith's body was found Tuesday outside her home in Pocahontas, about 130 miles northeast of Little Rock. Police didn't provide a cause of death for the 57-year-old lawmaker, but say they're treating the case as a homicide. Investigators haven't named any suspects in her death.

Linda Collins-Smith
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

Authorities say human remains found outside the home of a former Arkansas lawmaker are those of a woman but that the condition of the body is preventing immediate identification.

The state GOP tweeted Tuesday night that 57-year-old former state Sen. Linda Collins-Smith had died.

State police say the remains were found Tuesday at Collins-Smith's home but cannot say that the remains are hers. Police are investigating the death as a homicide.

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 in Little Rock has again denied an Oklahoma man's request for a new trial following his 1999 federal murder conviction and death sentence in Arkansas.

The request by Danny Lee to overturn his conviction in the deaths of gun dealer William Mueller, his wife and her 8-year-old daughter, and stealing guns and cash in a plot to establish a whites-only nation in the Pacific Northwest was rejected Tuesday.

Little Rock Police Officer Charles Starks shooting 30-year-old Bradley Blackshire who was in a stolen car on Feb. 22, 2019.
Little Rock Police Department

Police in Little Rock, Arkansas, have fired a white officer who killed a black motorist by shooting at least 15 times through the windshield as the car was moving.

Police spokesman Michael Ford says Officer Charles Starks was terminated Monday. Prosecutors on April 19 declined to file charges in the death of 30-year-old Bradley Blackshire.

Police say Starks was responding to a call after a detective confirmed that the car Blackshire was driving was stolen. Video released of the Feb. 22 shooting showed Starks on the hood of the slowly moving car firing into the windshield.

A book looks at the murder of an Arkansas woman and the impact such a horrific incident had on family members of the victim. Genie Massey wrote about the death of her aunt Tresia Jester who was shot late one night on March 21, 1992 in Pine Bluff.

Little Rock Police Department

The Little Rock Police Department has released a video of the fatal officer-involved shooting of 30-year-old Bradley Blackshire last month. 

Prior to the video's release, Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. held a press conference at City Hall, saying he has turned over the investigation into Officer Charles Starks to prosecutors to determine whether criminal charges should be filed. 

Daniel Breen / KUAR News

The fourth finalist for the job leading the Little Rock Police Department is urging Mayor Frank Scott, Jr. to choose her as the city's first female Chief of Police. 

Little Rock Assistant Police Chief Alice Fulk concluded her presentation with a nod to her status as the only woman out of four finalists to lead her department. 

"Mr. Mayor, more than anything I just want to remind you this is March, it's Women's History Month. It's time to make some history," Fulk said. 

Daniel Breen / KUAR News

The third of four finalists for Little Rock Police Chief spoke with members of the public Monday at Little Rock's Philander Smith College. 

A thinner crowd greeted Norman, Okla. Police Chief Keith Humphrey than what retired Los Angeles Police Commander Todd Chamberlain and Little Rock Assistant Police Chief Hayward Finks had to contend with. And though Humphrey comes from outside of the department, he tailored his presentation to the city whose police force he hopes to lead. 

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