Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Law and Order in the Ozarks (Part XCIII): Year-end wrap up

In this post, I will catch up on various law and order news for Newton County, Arkansas for 2011.

The really big news is that Newton County finally broke ground on a new jail, but that news is so big that I'll save it for a separate post.

The Oct. 5, 2011 issue of the Newton County Times reports that the 14th Judicial Drug Task Force arrested 28-year-old Billy Joe Lewis when a probation/parole visit by the Newton County Sheriff's office revealed 19 grams of meth on Lewis's person, as well as marijuana growing at his Marble Falls residence.

The Oct. 26, 2011 issue of the Newton County Times reports that the Jasper City Council passed an animal ordinance, this after twice tabling it. The ordinance was "prepared" by the city's attorney, Dawn Allen, and it is apparently based on a similar ordinance in effect in the city of Eurake Springs. The ordinance notes that the city has no animal shelter, so animal owners must "maintain proper care over them and are encouraged to cooperate and abide by the provisions of the ordinance." Further, "the burden for animal treatment, removal or disposal falls entirely on the owner of the animal or property owner." The ordinance requires both dogs and cats to be vaccinated, and dogs must have both a collar and a tag. The newspaper reports:
Dogs are not allowed to run at large on public property unless the animal is under voice control and would be prohibited to run at large on private property without the owners permission." The ordinance also addressed vicious animals, animal cruelty and the disposal of dead animals' bodies.
Responding apparently to concerns that the ordinance represented "too much law" and insufficient deference to the informal order that has previously prevailed, the mayor announced that he was "not going to be out looking for stuff." He said he didn't expect the city to be getting a call every time a dog crossed onto someone's property. He said if the city gets a call, he will simply call the owner and "tell them to take care of it." The ordinance sets a $50 fine for a violation, and a fee of up to $250 may be assessed if the owner refuses to respond to a violation. An earlier report on this proposed ordinance is here.

The Nov. 9 issue of the Newton County Times reports that a 52-year-old woman was formally charged in September, 2010, with two counts of aggravated assault, two counts of permitting abuse of a minor and a single count of battery in the second degree, all Class D felonies. She entered a no contest plea to those charges on Nov. 3 and was ordered to six years of probation and a fine of $3,500. The charges stem in part from the woman's failure to respond to an admission from her 14-year-old son that he had engaged in sexual contact with his two sisters, aged 13 and 11, and that he continued to to have sexual contact with the older sister. In addition, when the 11-year-old girl wrote a letter to her mother detailing the sexual contact, the woman hit the girl in the face, knocking out a tooth. The woman was charged with aggravated assault for sitting on her 13-year-old and pressing the minor's face into a pillow, and also for hitting the child with a board on her buttocks and the back of her legs. The woman also allegedly stuffed socks into the 13-year-old's mouth and "punched her." The story does not indicate whether the woman retains custody of her children.

A 28-year-old man was sentenced to six years of probation and $1000 fine after pleading guilty to to theft of 24 oxycodone-acetaminaophen tablets and possession of marijuana. In exchange for the plea, a charge of residential burglary was dropped.

A 50-year-old man was charged with possession of a firearm, aggravated assault and possession of a controlled substance (marijuana) following an incident at Marble Falls, when the man shot in the direction of law enforcement officers who were investigating a methamphetamine lab. In a plea deal, the man was sentenced to 30 days in jail and payment of $1000 in fines and court costs.

A 35-year-old man was charged with delivery of a controlled substance and related charges after he distributed marijuana he received by Federal Express from California. He was sentenced to three years in the Arkansas Dept. of Corrections but given a five-year suspended sentence and fined $1000 plus costs. The man was also ordered to forfeit items seized in the investigation.

A 24-year-old man was charged with stealing a 1985 Chevy Blazer and leading police officers on a high-speed chase through southern and western parts of the county, over many miles, including parts of Highways 16 (Ponca to Mossville), 7 (Deer to Jasper), and 374 (McIlroy Gap toward Vendor). At one point, the man even ran a police roadblock. In a plea agreement, he was sentenced to two years in the Arkansas Dept. of Corrections "with a judicial transfer to a regional punishment facility, followed by a three-year suspended imposition of sentence and a one-year sentence in jail, all concurrent."

The Nov. 30, 2011 issue of the paper reports that a 53-year-old man from Deer, Steven Moore, was charged with aggravated assault after he shot at his brother and swung a machete at him on August 31, 2010. The brother under attack eventually tackled the aggressor brother and pinned him to the ground, which was the situation when Jasper Police Chief Peter DeChant arrived. In a plea deal, the aggressor was sentenced to 12 months probation and ordered to pay a $500 fine plus court costs.

Other reported cases arose from a March, 2011, assault on a Newton County Sheriff's Deputy in the context of an arrest and an incident in which the man came onto another person's property and pointed a firearm at the landowner. The aggressor was charged with terroristic threatening, among other crimes.

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