Statement of Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington regarding State v. Lard jury verdict
Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington’s statement regarding State v. Lard verdict:
When the spouse of a law enforcement officer sends him or her off to begin their shift, they never know if they will see each other alive again. The most important job of a law enforcement officer is to return home safely to his or her family at the end of his or her shift.
I have attended three funerals for fallen officers since I was elected in 2010. I hope and pray that I never have to attend another. The citizens of the Second Judicial District can trust that if another law enforcement officer is killed in the line of duty while I am your prosecuting attorney, my office will pursue the death penalty against the responsible person(s). My administration has and will continue to have an absolute zero tolerance policy for the unspeakable crime of murdering a police officer in the line of duty.
My decision to seek the death penalty in this case is one that did not come without a great amount of thought and prayer. Capital punishment and the use of such is not something that I take lightly. In this particular case, I saw no other option. Not only did the defendant kill Trumann Police Officer Jonathan Schmidt, he came within inches of killing Sgt. Corey Overstreet in the same episode.
In my 20 years as a trial attorney, I have never heard a jury speak any louder or clearer than this Greene County jury did today. This jury spoke volumes with the punishment that they delivered– a sentence of death. The jury echoed the commitment of the community to protect those who protect us. I am very proud of their courage and fortitude. I know it wasn’t an easy decision, but it is one that had to be made. The jury is the conscience of the community, and I appreciate their sacrifice in serving in this two week trial, and for what I know had to be a difficult decision. We knew it would take all 12 jurors to impose the death sentence and they have done just that.
The State of Arkansas, and I speak for the State as the elected prosecutor for the 2nd Judicial District, believes Officer Jonathan Schmidt and his family now have justice for his murder and are a step closer to closure. The pain and suffering they have experienced is a tremendous amount of pain and suffering. That pain and void that they feel will never fully go away, but I pray that with the jury’s decision that they will find peace. The family of Officer Schmidt are some of the finest and strongest people that I have ever had the privilege of knowing, and they will continue to be in my prayers.
I want to thank my team, Greene County Deputy Prosecutors Kimberly Dale and Dr. Andy Fulkerson; Poinsett County Deputy Prosecutors Jimmy Gazaway and David Boling; and our support staff: Zach Morrison, Liz Wagner, Robin Norman, and Investigator Allan Hicks. All have given 110 percent, and I could not be prouder of my deputy prosecutors and staff for their tireless work and effort in helping me achieve justice for Officer Schmidt and his family.
I also want to thank Poinsett County Judge Charles Nix, Poinsett County Sheriff Larry Mills, Craighead County Sheriff Jack McCann, Greene County Sheriff Dan Langston and all of their departments for the assistance they have provided throughout this long ordeal.
Poinsett County has went above and beyond the call of duty in helping to bring this murderer to trial and hold him responsible for his actions.
The Arkansas State Police and their expertise were so valuable in taking this case, investigating it, and pulling it together for the prosecution team. They turned over every rock and followed every possible lead to ensure that justice would be done for Officer Schmidt. Lead Investigator Special Agent Mike Grimes, Sgt. John Carter, Special Agents Ramey Lovan, Allen Earnhart and Tony Roe gave their all and I appreciate their service.
Most importantly, let us not forget about the true heroes in this, Officer Jonathan Schmidt and Sgt. Corey Overstreet, who put their lives on the line everyday to serve and protect the people of Trumann.
Officer Jonathan Schmidt made the ultimate sacrifice doing what he loved most, protecting and serving his community. His legacy and life that he gave unselfishly will never be forgotten.
In remembering Officer Schmidt and the sacrifice that he made, my mind was drawn to John 15:13:
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
Officer Jonathan Schmidt, fallen, but not forgotten.