New­port boy in court over slay­ing of of­fi­cer

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - KEN­NETH HEARD

NEW­PORT — A New­port dis­trict judge found prob­a­ble cause to charge a 16-year-old boy with cap­i­tal mur­der Fri­day in the June 12 shoot­ing of a New­port po­lice of­fi­cer and or­dered him held with­out bail.

Pros­e­cu­tors also charged Der­rick Heard of New­port with at­tempted cap­i­tal mur­der over shots fired at a sec­ond po­lice of­fi­cer, as well as break­ing or en­ter­ing, theft and pos­ses­sion of a hand­gun by a mi­nor.

A sec­ond sus­pect, Tyler Calamese, 18, of New­port, whom au­thor­i­ties orig­i­nally ac­cused of killing Lt. Patrick Weather­ford, now faces charges of break­ing or en­ter­ing, theft and pro­vid­ing a weapon to a mi­nor.

Pros­e­cu­tors claim Calamese broke into a car, stole a hand­gun and gave it to Heard, who later used the weapon to shoot Weather­ford, 41, a 15-year veteran of the New­port Po­lice Depart­ment.

Dis­trict Judge Bar­bara Grif­fin set bail at $5,000 for Calamese af­ter Pros­e­cut­ing At­tor­ney Henry Boyce had asked for $50,000 bail.

Dur­ing his brief hear­ing Fri­day, Heard wore a gray and white striped prison uni­form and orange san­dals. His hands and feet were bound by chains. He kept his head tucked into his chest un­til Grif­fin called him to ad­dress her.

By com­par­i­son, Calamese, who sat near Heard in the small court­room, was an­i­mated, smil­ing and talk­ing to friends and fam­ily mem­bers.

“I’m happy. I’m blessed,” Calamese said of not be­ing charged with Weather­ford’s slay­ing as deputies led him out of the court­room.

Heard’s charges end nearly six weeks of spec­u­la­tion by some res­i­dents who ques­tioned why Boyce didn’t charge Calamese quickly with the slay­ing af­ter his ar­rest.

The pros­e­cu­tor had un­til Aug. 12 to re­lease Calamese with­out charg­ing him and said the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Weather­ford’s slay­ing was the most in­tense he has been in­volved with as a pros­e­cu­tor.

Weather­ford was fa­tally shot June 12 af­ter he and Sgt. Shane Rogers re­sponded about 6 p.m. to a call re­gard­ing a ve­hi­cle break-in at New­port High School. The two spot­ted a per­son and at­tempted to stop him, ac­cord­ing to an ar­rest af­fi­davit writ­ten by Arkansas State Po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tor Sgt. Scott Pil­low and filed Wed­nes­day in Jack­son County Cir­cuit Court.

The per­son fled, first on a bi­cy­cle and then on foot. Weather­ford ran af­ter the per­son while Rogers gave chase in a pa­trol car, the af­fi­davit said.

Weather­ford ap­pre­hended the sus­pect near Bowen Street and Rem­mel Road, about five blocks west of the school, and told a dis­patcher that he had a weapon, the af­fi­davit said.

Weather­ford then was shot, with the bul­let strik­ing him in the ab­domen, in­ves­ti­ga­tors said. A med­i­cal ex­am­iner re­ported that the bul­let trav­eled to his heart. Med­i­cal per­son­nel trans­ported Weather­ford to Unity Health-Har­ris Med­i­cal Cen­ter in New­port, where he died.

Au­thor­i­ties scoured the neigh­bor­hood on foot and by he­li­copter, search­ing for a sus­pect.

Calamese sur­ren­dered to po­lice about 7:30 p.m., about an hour and a half af­ter Weather­ford was shot.

His grand­mother, Janet Reynolds, said Calamese was at an apart­ment com­plex sev­eral miles from the high school at the time and had heard on a po­lice scan­ner that he was con­sid­ered a sus­pect. He went to the Po­lice Depart­ment with the in­tent of clear­ing his name, she said.

In­stead, Calamese con­fessed to slay­ing Weather­ford af­ter be­ing in­ter­ro­gated, state po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tor Wen­dall Jines tes­ti­fied in Calamese’s prob­a­ble-cause hear­ing last month.

When Calamese was asked af­ter Fri­day’s hear­ing why he con­fessed, Gina Reynolds, an at­tor­ney with the Pub­lic De­fender Com­mis­sion in Lit­tle Rock who was ap­pointed to rep­re­sent him, in­ter­rupted and didn’t al­low Calamese to an­swer. She said she would not com­ment on the con­fes­sion or de­tails of the case.

Reynolds later said state po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tors co­erced the con­fes­sion out of Calamese be­cause he was “tired and scared.”

“They threat­ened him,” Reynolds said.

Boyce said Heard be­came a sus­pect af­ter of­fi­cers ques­tioned wit­nesses early on in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“We never ruled him out,” the pros­e­cu­tor said.

Heard’s at­tor­ney, Ran­dall Davis Jr. of Lit­tle Rock, said he didn’t in­tend to ask for bail for Heard to be re­leased.

“We want to ob­tain all the in­for­ma­tion on this case that we can,” Davis said.

Ev­i­dence in­cludes videos taken from a se­cu­rity cam­era at the school and from body cam­eras on the two of­fi­cers. Boyce said he had to wait for foren­sic en­hance­ment of the video be­fore fil­ing charges.

Boyce said the state now con­tends Calamese wasn’t at the school when the break-in oc­curred.

Boyce al­leges Calamese stole a weapon from an­other ve­hi­cle June 11 and gave it to Heard. Less than 36 hours later, that weapon was used to kill Weather­ford, deputy pros­e­cut­ing at­tor­ney Steven Howard said.

The two teens were ac­quain­tances when both at­tended New­port High School.

Boyce said the se­ri­ous­ness of Calamese’s crime should have war­ranted a higher bail.

“I am ex­tremely dis­ap­pointed,” he said of Calamese’s $5,000 bail. “I felt, con­sid­er­ing the se­ri­ous­ness of this of­fense, that a higher bond was jus­ti­fied.”

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