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.

Wright Sentenced to 40 Years in Prison, Pleads Guilty to Avoid the Jury Sitting in the Box

MARION, AR – Freddie Lee Wright, Jr., 38, pleaded guilty today to possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. On February 26, 2016, West Memphis Police Department conducted a traffic stop on Mr. Wright, and found 25.1 grams of cocaine in his possession. Wright had been convicted of seven prior felonies and was charged as a habitual offender, which enhanced the punishment range.

A jury was selected for his trial on January 22, but before the trial could proceed, Wright accepted responsibility for his crime and pleaded guilty the next morning. Judge Randy Philhours sentenced him to twenty-five years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, plus an additional fifteen years due to the habitual offender enhancement, to be served consecutively.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Thomas Young handled the case for the State of Arkansas. Second Judicial Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington said, “I want to thank Tom Young for his uncompromising pursuit of justice in this case. His determination to put this habitual offender behind bars led directly to this outcome. I also want to thank the West Memphis Police Department for their hard work. I hope Mr. Wright takes this time to reflect upon his choices and makes the effort to rehabilitate himself.”

Man Pleads Guilty to Attempted Capital Murder and Aggravated Robbery

JONESBORO, AR – Dwalin Woods appeared today in the Circuit Court of Craighead County and entered a plea of guilty to attempted capital murder and aggravated robbery.  Judge Cindy Thyer imposed a sentence of 40 years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections. Woods will be required to serve 28 years prior to any application for release on parole.

Second Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington said, “This plea and sentence has truly served the ends of justice. It has brought comfort and relief to the victim and will give the Defendant an opportunity to rehabilitate himself and to live the significant remainder of his life as a productive citizen.”

“I want to thank Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Charlene Henry for her hard work in this case, as well as members of the Bay and Trumann police departments, the Craighead County Sheriff’s Office, and all first responders who worked very hard to save the life of this young victim and to bring her attacker to justice. This is a fine example of the coordination between my office and our law-enforcement agencies to make our communities a safer and better place to live.”