Report: Rudy man ruled fit for trial
Murder and arson counts filed in 2016 Crawford County killing
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.