West Memphis Man Sentenced to 152 Years by Crittenden County Jury

WEST MEMPHIS, AR – Jaylen Farmer, 21, was convicted by a Crittenden County jury last night of one count of Attempted Capital Murder, sixteen counts of Unlawful Discharge of a Firearm from a Vehicle, one count of Fleeing, and eighteen counts of Using a Firearm in the Commission of a Felony. A jury of six men and six women found Farmer guilty on all charges and recommended he be sentenced to forty-eight years for Attempted Capital Murder, eight years for Fleeing, and a total of ninety-six years for the sixteen counts of Unlawful Discharge of a Firearm from a Vehicle, to be served consecutively. Circuit Judge John Fogleman followed the jury’s recommendation and sentenced Famer to a total of 152 years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections.

Farmer was one of two men charged when a passenger in a vehicle opened fire at a West Memphis Police Officer during a routine traffic stop on May 19, 2017. The officer was trying to pull the vehicle over for a traffic violation when Farmer leaned out of the window with an AK-47 rifle and opened fire on the officer, striking his patrol vehicle several times.

Second Judicial Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington said, “As prosecutors, our job focuses on public safety, and I hope that this verdict and sentence sends a strong message to those who have no regard for the safety or the lives of those who live and work in our community. The members of the West Memphis Police Department and officers of all the other agencies in our state lay their lives on the line daily. Violence against those who protect us will not be tolerated. I appreciate the hard work Deputy Prosecutors Tom Young and Matthew Coe put into preparing and prosecuting this case.” Deputy Prosecutor Tom Young of West Memphis added, “Our community is sick of gun violence perpetuated by gangs, and the jury clearly agreed. I also want to thank the West Memphis Police Department for their hard work handling of this difficult case.”

Man Convicted of Capital Murder by Blytheville Jury, Gets Life in Prison

BLYTHEVILLE, AR – Avante Lawshea, 17, was found guilty by a Blytheville jury of two counts of Capital Murder and one count of Aggravated Robbery today. Judge Ralph Wilson presided. Lawshea received life in prison without the possibility of parole for the two charges of Capital Murder, plus an additional ten years for the charge of Aggravated Robbery. Further, he was subject to an additional sentence enhancement of ten years for committing a felony involving a homicide in the presence of a child.

Lawshea is one of four defendants charged with the murders of Bahadur “Bob” Dhillion, 62, and Anthony Tramble, 57, during a robbery of the Cherry Tree convenience store in Blytheville on November 5, 2016.

Mississippi County Deputy Prosecuting Attorneys Curtis Walker and Gina Knight prosecuted the cases for the State of Arkansas. Second Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington said, “I want to thank both Curtis Walker and Gina Knight for their hard work and diligence. I also want to acknowledge the Blytheville Police Department for their pursuit of justice in these cases. I additionally want to thank the jurors for taking time away from their work and their families to ensure that justice was served in this emotionally difficult case.”

Blytheville Parent Pleads Guilty to Manslaughter in Infant Death

BLYTHEVILLE, AR – Johnny Richard, Sr., 30, pleaded guilty today to Manslaughter in Mississippi County Circuit Court. Richard was the parent of a four-month-old infant who died from methamphetamine poisoning in August of 2017. Judge Cindy Thyer sentenced Richard to ten years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections. Richard’s wife, Christina Richard, 32, was also charged with manslaughter in this case, and her next appearance in Circuit Court is March 29.

 Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Gina Knight handled the case for the State of Arkansas. Second Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington said, “A case like this is especially hard due to the age of the victim. I want to thank Deputy Prosecutor Gina Knight for her commitment to justice in this case, and I want to thank Mike Zwerlein of the Blytheville Police Department and Katherine Chlapecka of the Arkansas State Police for their police work in this difficult case.”

Blytheville Man Pleads Guilty to Murder

BLYTHEVILLE, AR – Dante Reed, 20, pleaded guilty today to Second Degree Murder. Reed was charged in October 2016 after police said he shot and killed Michael Angelo Scott, 33. Judge Cindy Thyer sentenced Reed to thirty years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Gina Knight represented the State of Arkansas in this case. Second Judicial Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington said, “I appreciate the hard work Deputy Prosecutor Gina Knight put into this case. I also want to thank the Blytheville Police Department for their handling of this case. Through the efforts of both, a murderer is now behind bars and away from the citizens of Mississippi County.”

Restaurant Owner Charged with Rape, Human Trafficking Violations

JONESBORO, AR – Second Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington announced today that he has filed formal charges against Hexin Chen for Rape and two counts of Trafficking of Persons. Chen, 45, faces ten to forty years or life in prison for the charge of Rape, a class Y felony, and six to thirty years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000 for each charge of Trafficking of Persons, each class A felonies, if convicted.

Prosecuting Attorney Ellington said, “Chen was originally arrested on the charge of rape, after further investigation by Jonesboro Police Department, it was determined that there were two individuals employed at Chen’s restaurant whose status we believe meets the criteria for violation of human trafficking statutes.”

Prosecuting Attorney Ellington and JPD Detective Bill Brown ask that if anyone else has been a victim of trafficking in this case to contact Detective Brown at (870) 935-6710.

A person violates human trafficking laws when they knowingly recruit, harbor, transport, obtain, entice, solicit, isolate, provide, or maintain a person knowing that the person will be subjected to involuntary servitude; or he benefited financially or by receiving anything of value from participation in a venture.

All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.