Jack­sonville man, 21, ac­cepts 25-year prison sen­tence for 2014 slay­ing

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - ARKANSAS - JOHN LYNCH

A 21-year-old Jack­sonville man has ac­cepted a 25-year prison sen­tence on re­duced charges for the 2014 killing of a North Lit­tle Rock man after the pros­e­cu­tion’s only eye­wit­ness to the slay­ing, al­ready twice con­victed of rob­bery, picked up rob­bery and bur­glary charges.

Robert Chan­dler Har­ris shot and killed 28-year-old Michael Cook in July 2014, less than a week be­fore Har­ris’ 18th birth­day.

Cook was found, fa­tally wounded, in the Neal Place area near the in­ter­sec­tion of Camp­bell Road and Whip­poor­will Lane.

Po­lice said Har­ris killed the fa­ther of two while steal­ing his cell­phone. Har­ris was charged with cap­i­tal mur­der and ag­gra­vated rob­bery.

On Mon­day, Har­ris pleaded guilty to sec­ond-de­gree mur­der and was sen­tenced to 25 years in prison, with prose­cu­tors drop­ping the rob­bery charge as part of a plea agree­ment.

Ar­rested the day after Cook was killed, Har­ris ini­tially de­nied know­ing him but later ac­knowl­edged he was with Cook when the older man was shot. But Har­ris named an­other teenager, Johnathan De­shawn Turner, as the killer, po­lice said.

Turner, now 20, had al­ready told de­tec­tives that he had seen Har­ris shoot Cook.

Turner first said he didn’t know who the gun­man was, only de­scrib­ing him as a man with dread­locks. Pressed by de­tec­tives about in­con­sis­ten­cies in his de­scrip­tion of how Cook was killed, Turner be­came emo­tional and told po­lice that Har­ris was the gun­man.

Turner told po­lice that he, Har­ris and Robert Bland had been sit­ting in Bland’s car parked at Bland’s house on Whip­poor­will Lane, drink­ing and lis­ten­ing to mu­sic while Har­ris was show­ing off a gun. Cook joined them in the car, looking for a ride.

The older man asked to hold the gun, and at first acted like he was not go­ing to re­turn it, po­lice said.

The four then got out of the car, with Bland go­ing into his home.

Turner told po­lice that Har­ris said he was go­ing to take Cook’s cell­phone. Turner said he saw Har­ris make Cook empty his pock­ets be­fore shoot­ing him.

Cook ran, and Turner and Har­ris took off in the other di­rec­tion, Turner told po­lice.

But Har­ris stopped and turned to fire more shots at the flee­ing Cook, Turner said.

Less than two weeks after Har­ris was ar­rested, Turner was charged with ag­gra­vated rob­bery for steal­ing a cell­phone from a teenager in a holdup that oc­curred in May 2014. The vic­tim, Dionte Smit­tie, had been hit in the head and knocked to the ground by two as­sailants he didn’t know as he walked in the 500 block of West 55th Street in North Lit­tle Rock, ac­cord­ing to po­lice records.

Turner was iden­ti­fied as one of the rob­bers after Smit­tie was robbed again in July 2014, about two weeks be­fore Cook was killed.

In that holdup in the area of Vel­vet Ridge and Sum­mertree streets in North Lit­tle Rock, Smit­tie and two other teens, Taron Oliver and Kanavion John­son, said they’d been ac­costed by two gun­men who de­manded money and mar­i­juana. The three were able to flee when the rob­bers were dis­tracted by a car driv­ing by.

Turner sub­se­quently pleaded guilty to two charges of rob­bery in ex­change for in­car­cer­a­tion in a state youth-ser­vices pro­gram to be fol­lowed by five years on pro­ba­tion.

But he has been ar­rested twice more on felony charges, with his trial set for next month:

Res­i­den­tial bur­glary over ac­cu­sa­tions that he and an older man broke into the Lynn Lane home of Jef­frey Foster of North Lit­tle Rock in April 2016 and stole elec­tronic equip­ment. Turner’s co-de­fen­dant, 24-yearold Rod­er­ick An­thony Walker of North Lit­tle Rock, pleaded guilty to the charge in Jan­uary and was sen­tenced to pay $3,000 resti­tu­tion and a $500 fine as a con­di­tion of serv­ing five years on pro­ba­tion.

Ag­gra­vated rob­bery in con­nec­tion with the Fe­bru­ary 2017 armed rob­bery of the Lit­tle Cae­sar’s pizza restau­rant on East Broad­way in Lit­tle Rock. His co-de­fen­dant, An­thony Nel­son, 17, of North Lit­tle Rock, pleaded guilty to rob­bery and theft in June in ex­change for in­car­cer­a­tion in a youth-ser­vices pro­gram on the con­di­tion that he tes­ti­fies against Turner.

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