Man again sentenced to life for ’07 murder
A jury of eight women and five men sentenced a man Friday in Saline County Circuit Court to life in prison.
Montrell Ventry was 17 in
2007 when he was arrested in connection with a deadly armed robbery. After his conviction, he received a sentence of life without the possibility of parole, but recently the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled that a juvenile cannot be given such a sentence and his previous sentence was vacated. After deliberating for hours, the jury returned a life sentence.
With a life sentence, Ventry will be eligible for parole on Aug. 5, 2037. He will be under supervised parole for his entire life, according to Charonda Rushing, records coordinator for the Arkansas Department of Correction.
Eddie Dixon, who was robbed during the incident, told his story during the first day of the sentencing.
Dixon told the jury about his memory of Aug. 5, 2007. He explained that he and his cousin, Nick Jones Jr., were from North Little Rock, but decided to travel to Benton so Dixon could meet a girl.
The girl directed the two men to an industrial area on Neely Street, but when they arrived, three men robbed them at gunpoint. Dixon testified that he was ordered to empty his pockets and take off his clothes.
He heard two gunshots and eventually was able to run to the nearby Saline County Sheriff’s Office.
Jones had been shot in the face. He died about two weeks later after Ventry turned 18 years old.
“We wouldn’t be here if (the shooting) would have been 13 days later,” said Chief Deputy
Prosecutor Rebecca Bush.
Ventry was arrested the day after the incident in White Hall while driving the vehicle belonging to Jones.
During his testimony, Ventry admitting to be the person holding the gun when it went off shooting Jones in the face. According to Ventry, the gun went off when Terrance Rhodes, another person taking part in the crime, handed the firearm to him.
In a video of an interview with police, Ventry told detectives Rhodes had taken advantage of him. Prior to the robbery, Ventry had taken prescription medication and drank whiskey.
“He took advantage of me because he knew I was on that medication,” Ventry told police. “They knew I wasn’t in my right mind.”
During his testimony, Ventry apologizes countless times to members of his family as well as the victims’ family.
“I swear I’m sorry for what I did,” Ventry said. “I’m not a bad person.”
Ventry was born in
New Orleans, Louisiana, but was displaced after Hurricane Katrina. During the chaos, Ventry was separated from his family who evacuated to Saline County. After spending about two months in Houston, Texas, Ventry was reunited to his family in Arkansas.
The jury heard from a few members of the victims’ family include Jones’ mother, aunt and Dixon’s father.
“We’re here to fight for justice,” said the victims’ aunt, Norma Dixon. “What would you want if you stood in our shoes?”
Rosemary Dixon, Jones’ mother and Eddie Dixon Jr’s aunt spoke about how the incident has affecting her. After the death of her only child, she has been receiving therapy and has had many sleepless nights.
“It’s been 12 years but it seems like just yesterday,” she said.
She also spoke of how her son suffered in the hospital in the weeks before his death.
“Montrell Ventry shot my son and left him to die,” Rosemary Dixon said. “My son did not deserve that.”
The state’s case was presented by Prosecuting Attorney Chris Walton and Bush. Jeff Rosenzweig, of Little Rock, is serving as Ventry’s legal counsel.