Arkansas Crime

Martha Shoffner
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A change-of-plea hearing has been scheduled for a former Arkansas state treasurer accused of misspending campaign funds on personal items.

Martha Shoffner was convicted earlier this year on 14 bribery and extortion charges and awaits sentencing in that case. She was scheduled to go to trial in December on separate mail fraud charges accusing her of misspending $9,800 in campaign funds on clothing, cosmetics and other personal items.

A judge has delayed the trial of an Arkansas man charged in the killing of a Hot Springs Village police dispatcher.

Kevin Duck was set to go to trial this week in the 2011 death of his girlfriend, Dawna Natzke. But the case has been pushed back until Feb. 10 at the request of defense attorneys, who said they needed more time to review documents received in the discovery process.

Crystal Lowery
Pulaski Co. Sheriff's Office

Authorities have arrested the wife of a man accused of kidnapping and killing an Arkansas real estate agent on the same charges.

The Pulaski County Sheriff's Office says 41-year-old Crystal Lowery of Jacksonville was arrested Thursday at her home. An arrest report says she is charged with capital murder and kidnapping.

Lowery's husband, 33-year-old Arron Michael Lewis, was arrested earlier this month for capital murder, kidnapping and robbery in the death of 50-year-old Beverly Carter. Lewis has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

A federal judge has sentenced a former northwest Arkansas developer to more than five years in prison. Brandon Barber was sentenced Tuesday in federal court in Fort Smith after pleading guilty last year to bank fraud, bankruptcy fraud and money laundering.

Federal prosecutors had accused Barber of concealing his assets and income after he filed for bankruptcy, as well as defrauding banks for loans to finance real estate projects.

Authorities say a Searcy County deputy who was wounded in a shootout at a bakery in the Ozark Mountains has been released from the hospital.

Searcy County Sheriff Donald Ragland says Deputy Lang Holland is recovering at home after the shooting last week at Serenity Farm Bread in Leslie. Arkansas State Police say Holland was injured Friday after a man allegedly opened fire at the bakery.

Holland and a state police trooper returned fire and injured the man, who authorities identified as 75-year-old John Kolata.

prison jail department of correction
Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR

Arkansas Community Corrections presented a proposal for transitional  centers for ex-offenders to a legislative joint committee Monday. The plan would provide 800 transitional beds statewide over two years at a total cost of nearly $9 million. 

Sheila Sharp of the Community Corrections said that could help ease prison crowding as it looks to release inmates and avoid recidivism.

Chris Hickey / KUAR News

Reentering society after a prison sentence can be a difficult task. That's because former prisoners can come up against barriers. While Arkansas corrections officials try to find ways to ease those barriers, obstacles might still come in the search for housing or employment, or getting mental health and addiction treatment.

43-year old Nyle Daniels of Little Rock was raised by a single mother, but, he says she was often absent, so at an early age he started drinking, using drugs and got involved with gangs.

Chris Hickey/ KUAR News

Before 28-year old Timothy King was convicted of second degree murder in 2009, he says he spent the majority of his time running with the wrong people.

“There was a night at this one party where a guy was cutting himself and trying to throw blood on people and I asked him to leave and he wasn’t happy about it. And from that point on, the next few nights he was openly threatening people and my wife at the time.”

King says the threats escalated, leading him and a friend to send a violent message.

The former Superfund site is in Greene County near Paragould.
encyclopediaofarkansas.net

The site of a former auto equipment company in northeast Arkansas has been removed from a national list of one of the most environmentally dangerous places in the country. On Wednesday the Environmental Protection Agency removed the former Monroe Auto Equipment Company site near Paragould from a list of Superfund sites.

EPA spokesperson Jennah Durant said the plant stopped using the area to dispose of waste in 1978 and the site was hazardous for decades.

Eric Holder
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Attorney General Eric Holder says the unrest after a police officer in Missouri fatally shot an unarmed black man in August shows law enforcement can't let tensions with the community go unresolved.

Holder told a group of mayors and police chiefs that the shooting of Michael Brown by white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson and the protests that followed show the need for expanded collaboration among law enforcement and the communities they serve.

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