Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

DNA test an illness risk for suspect, defense argues


CAMDEN — Prosecutor­s in a second-degree murder case are asking for the DNA of the defendant, but he and his lawyers claim turning over a sample will put him at risk of contractin­g covid-19, according to court documents

Tyler Yarbrough is charged with second-degree murder stemming from a shooting that occurred near Chidester in June of 2018.

A request from the state of Arkansas states: “… It is reasonably likely that the results from the Arkansas Crime Laboratory will indicate that further testing must be performed using Defendant’s saliva in order to conduct DNA and other comparison­s to the evidence found at the crime scene. This request is made to avoid any unnecessar­y delay in these proceeding­s.”

In response to the request, Yarbrough’s lawyers have submitted paper work stating that the state had time to request a DNA sample when Yarbrough was in custody, and because of the ongoing covid-19 crisis Yarbrough would put himself in danger of contractin­g the disease if he were exposed to the health profession­al administer­ing the DNA swab.

A police affidavit states that at the time of the incident, Yarbrough admitted to shooting Jerrun Lewis with a .40 caliber Springfiel­d XD automatic weapon that he owned. Investigat­ors spoke with a witness, who stated the shooting occurred over Yarbrough losing a game of dominoes to Lewis.

The resident told investigat­ors that Yarbrough and Lewis were sitting at a table outside of the residence arguing and that he told them to “knock it off,” according to the affidavit. The resident stated that he eventually put up the dominoes game and told them to leave.

The resident stated in the affidavit that while he was inside the house putting up other items, he heard two gunshots, went outside and found Lewis lying on the ground.

Yarbrough told investigat­ors he had been at the residence since noon that day playing dominoes, drinking and eating, according to the affidavit. He went inside the residence and went back outside, Yarbrough told police, before Lewis pulled a knife on him. Yarbrough stated that he then ran towards his truck with Lewis chasing him with the knife.

Yarbrough said Lewis grabbed him and they were fighting at which time he reached into his truck, retrieved his gun and shot Lewis twice, according to the affidavit. He said the gun then jammed.

Yarbrough showed investigat­ors two small minor injuries on his arms where he said he was cut by Lewis, and an abrasion on his forehead, the affidavit states. Yarbrough said he was being “manhandled” by Lewis and had to protect himself, according to the affidavit.

After first responders arrived on the scene, Lewis was transporte­d to the Medical Center of South Arkansas in El Dorado where he died. Yarbrough was treated and released from the emergency room, according to the affidavit.

A witness said the altercatio­n started over Lewis beating Yarbrough at dominoes, according to the affidavit. The witness told police they were all drinking beer and that Yarbrough was also drinking hard liquor.

The witness told police that Yarbrough and Lewis “were going back and forth at each other about the game,” and that Yarbrough walked toward his truck before coming back and continuing the argument with Lewis the affidavit said.

“Yarbrough stated he was going to get his gun and started walking to his truck,” according to the affidavit. “(The witness) stated Lewis took off behind Yarbrough as Yarbrough walked to the passenger side of his truck.”

The witness said he did not see a knife at that time. Once both subjects were at the side of the truck, the witness observed them fighting for about 10 seconds and then observed Lewis lying on the ground, the affidavit said.

Upon arrival, deputies located the weapon in the driver’s-side seat of the vehicle, two spent shell casings, and a knife on the ground at the rear passenger side of the truck.

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