Arkansas Crime

A former Arkansas judge accused of giving lighter sentences to defendants in exchange for nude photos and sexual acts has been indicted on federal fraud and bribery charges.

The indictment against former Cross County District Court Judge Joseph Boeckmann was unsealed Monday. He's facing several charges, including wire fraud and witness tampering.

Boeckmann resigned in May after an investigation into allegations of inappropriate sexual relationships with men accused of crimes dating back decades, to his time as a prosecutor.

Police say two suspects have been arrested for the August shooting death of a North Carolina woman at a gas station in North Little Rock.

Sgt. Brian Dedrick says the suspects were arrested about 7 a.m. Tuesday on first-degree murder warrants and are now jailed without bond. Court records do not show that either suspect has been formally charged.

The two are suspects in the Aug. 6 shooting of 39-year-old Amy Southern Ashley of Raleigh, North Carolina, at a gas station just off the Interstate 30 bridge in downtown North Little Rock.

Sebastian COunty Sheriff's Deputy Bill Cooper
Sebastian Co. Sheriff's Office

A prosecutor says he'll look at an autopsy report due this week as he explores whether to seek the execution of a man accused of killing a western Arkansas deputy.

The Arkansas State Crime Lab says the medical examiner has completed its autopsy on Sebastian County Cpl. Bill Cooper and that investigators and prosecutors should have access soon. Prosecutor Dan Shue told the Southwest Times Record newspaper that part of his due diligence before starting a possible death-penalty case includes a look at the autopsy.

State Rep. John Walker (D-Little Rock).
Pulaski County Sheriff's Office

Little Rock Police are apologizing and dropping the misdemeanor charge against Democratic state representative and civil rights attorney John Walker. He was taken into custody Monday for filming a traffic stop and refusing to leave the scene

Chief of Police Kent Buckner now says Walker never should have been arrested.

State Rep. John Walker (D-Little Rock).
Pulaski County Sheriff's Office

Democratic state lawmaker and civil rights attorney John Walker was arrested on Monday for obstructing governmental operations. 

The Arkansas Supreme Court has ordered a resentencing for an inmate who has served nearly 40 years in prison for a crime committed when he was 16 years old.

Billy Ray Smith, who is now 59, challenged the life sentence he received in Pike County for rape. Smith, who represented himself in court filings, argued that a life sentence without parole for a non-homicide offense was illegal for a juvenile, and the state's highest court agreed on Thursday.

The court sent Smith's case back to Pike County Circuit Court with orders that his sentence be modified to 50 years.

Little Rock Police Chief Kenton Buckner speaking to the Political Animals Club
Chris Hickey / KUAR News

Little Rock’s Chief of Police gave a wide-ranging speech Wednesday that touched on community policing, crime, department policies, and his opposition to medical marijuana ballot proposals. 

Chief Kenton Buckner addressed members of the Political Animals Club at the Pleasant Valley Country Club.

A Little Rock woman has pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud a federal government food program. Court records show that 50-year-old Maria Carmen Nelson pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiring to commit wire fraud.

In exchange, 20 additional counts of wire fraud were dismissed. U.S. Attorney Christopher Thyer says Nelson defrauded nearly $576,000 from a U.S. Department of Agriculture program intended to feed children in low-income areas during the school year and is administered by the state Department of Human Services.

prison jail department of correction
Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR

For the first time in over 20 years, Arkansas prisoners will have access to federal grants to go to college.

Shorter College in North Little Rock has been selected by the U.S. Department of Education as part of a three year experiment to send inmates to school.

Shorter College says it will offer a two-year associate degree in business to 250 selected inmates as part of the program.   

A view of the Jefferson County Courthouse in Pine Bluff from inside the historic, but crumbling Hotel Pines.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Nine Pine Bluff police officers returned their Medals of Valor on Thursday after the city council directed scrutiny over why they were awarded. KUAR’s Jacob Kauffman spoke with council member Thelma Walker about a police shooting and the death of a 107-year-old man.

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