Wit­ness al­ters story; mur­der charge erased

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - ARKANSAS INSIDE - JOHN LYNCH

Prose­cu­tors have dropped mur­der charges against a Florida in­mate ac­cused of killing a man in North Lit­tle Rock nearly a year ago.

Pu­laski County deputy pros­e­cu­tor Ash­ley Clancy told Cir­cuit Judge Herb Wright on Mon­day that prose­cu­tors were with­draw­ing the first-de­gree mur­der and firearm counts against Charles Brent Gant be­cause the only eye­wit­ness to the Novem­ber slay­ing of Pedro Omar Baez Esper­anza had re­canted his claim that he saw Gant shoot Esper­anza.

Clancy told the judge that the wit­ness iden­ti­fi­ca­tion was the ba­sis for the ar­rest war­rant charg­ing Gant with mur­der.

Esper­anza, 31, of North Lit­tle Rock was found fa­tally wounded at 14th and Vine streets 10 months ago. Po­lice ob­tained an ar­rest war­rant for Gant the next day.

The pros­e­cu­tor did not name the wit­ness in court, but records show that he is Dean­gelo La­mon Davis of North Lit­tle Rock. Davis, 25, who has been jailed for the past seven months, is await­ing trans­port to prison to serve a five-year sen­tence for re­peat­edly vi­o­lat­ing his pro­ba­tion on forgery, break­ing-or-en­ter­ing, and firearm con­vic­tions.

Gant of North Lit­tle Rock was brought back to Arkansas from Florida about three months ago, and he’ll be re­turned there to fin­ish serv­ing a sen­tence for deal­ing drugs. Gant has 10 felony con­vic­tions in Arkansas and was on pa­role for drug-traf­fick­ing in Lit­tle Rock and Pu­laski County at the time of Esper­anza’s slay­ing.

He was ar­rested about a week af­ter, on Dec. 8, when a fed­eral fugi­tive-hunt­ing team tracked him to a home in Fort Wal­ton Beach, Fla., to ar­rest him on the Arkansas homi­cide charge.

Au­thor­i­ties said Gant tried to run from of­fi­cers, who chased him down and found mar­i­juana and co­caine on him.

Gant ini­tially gave of­fi­cers a fake name. He pleaded no con­test to the re­lated felony drug-traf­fick­ing charges in Fe­bru­ary and was sen­tenced to two years and three months in prison.

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