Re­port: Rudy man ruled fit for trial

Mur­der and ar­son counts filed in 2016 Craw­ford County killing

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - DAVE HUGHES

A Rudy man charged with shoot­ing a man last year and burn­ing his ru­ral Craw­ford County home has been deemed fit to stand to trial, ac­cord­ing to a re­port filed in the man’s case.

Jeremy Brake, 37, who is charged with first-de­gree mur­der in the Oc­to­ber 2016 shoot­ing death of Michael King, un­der­went a men­tal eval­u­a­tion last month to de­ter­mine if he could un­der­stand court pro­ceed­ings and help his at­tor­ney pre­pare for trial.

“I am in­clined to opine Mr. Brake has no sub­stan­tial deficits in his court knowl­edge or abil­ity to at­tend to the court pro­ceed­ings,” con­cluded the re­port, which was signed by post­doc­toral fel­low in foren­sic psy­chol­ogy David W. Con­tr­eras Jr. and Uni­ver­sity of Arkansas for Med­i­cal Sci­ences as­sis­tant clin­i­cal pro­fes­sor of psy­chi­a­try Ben­jamin J. Sil­ber.

Brake also is charged with com­mit­ting a felony with a firearm, ar­son, be­ing a felon in pos­ses­sion of a firearm, first-de­gree crim­i­nal mis­chief, tam­per­ing with phys­i­cal ev­i­dence and en­dan­ger­ing the wel­fare of a mi­nor, all felonies.

Brake is sched­uled to go be­fore Cir­cuit Judge Gary Cot­trell on Mon­day for a plea or trial re­quest hear­ing, ac­cord­ing to court records.

Brake’s at­tor­ney, pub­lic de­fender Ryan Nor­ris, re­quested in April that Cot­trell or­der the eval­u­a­tion, writ­ing in his mo­tion he be­lieved Brake was un­able to ef­fec­tively as­sist him in pre­par­ing for trial and didn’t un­der­stand the pro­ceed­ings against him.

The re­port showed Brake was ques­tioned ex­ten­sively about his knowl­edge of how the court works. It showed he knew such things as the dif­fer­ence be­tween a bench and jury trial, that a de­fen­dant didn’t have to tes­tify at trial, what hap­pens in a plea bar­gain and the mean­ing of a no-con­test plea.

Ac­cord­ing to court records, a con­fi­den­tial in­for­mant told sher­iff’s deputies he was at King’s home in the pre-dawn hours of Oct. 10 along with Brake and Brake’s mi­nor son. He said they were go­ing to smoke metham­phetamine and Brake re­trieved a sawed-off shot­gun he had left on the porch.

The in­for­mant said Brake oc­ca­sion­ally pointed the gun at King. The fi­nal time he pointed the gun, he shot King in the stom­ach. Brake then set a blan­ket on fire and poured gaso­line around the front door and ev­ery­one else in the house fled.

Wit­nesses told deputies they could hear screams come from in­side the house as it was en­veloped in flames.

Fire­fight­ers had dif­fi­culty ex­tin­guish­ing the fire be­cause cars around the house caught fire and propane tanks ex­ploded. King’s body was found later in the de­stroyed house.

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