White Quarters shooting suspect makes appearance in district court
An El Dorado man who is accused of capital murder was ordered held without bond during first appearance hearings Friday in 35th Judicial District Court.
Due to safety concerns, security was heightened and public access was restricted for the court hearings of Jacovis D. James, 23, who could be sentenced to life in prison or receive the death penalty for two counts of capital murder.
James also faces two counts of attempted capital murder in the Oct. 28 shooting that killed Aric D. Hall, 28, of El Dorado, and 30-year-old Darrishica Rogers of North Little Rock and gravely injured Remondo B. Caver, 29, and Marquesha D. Young, 26, both of El Dorado.
Wearing a faded blackand-white Union County Jail jumpsuit and shackled at the wrists and ankles, James stood twice before Judge Jack Barker, who convened a second hearing nearly 30 minutes after James’ initial appearance to clear up issues regarding the defendant’s legal representation and a clerical error in papers listing the possible penalties James could receive.
Included in an arrest warrant for the Oct. 28 shooting are felony charges of aggravated robbery and an enhanced penalty of a felony with a firearm.
James was identified as a suspect in the shooting that occurred inside a mobile home at White Quarters, No. 2.
He evaded arrest for a month until El Dorado police, acting on tips, worked with the U.S. Marshals Service, tracked him to a residence in Houston.
U.S. Marshals took James into custody Nov.
He was subsequently extradited to El Dorado and booked into the Union County Jail late Wednesday night.
In addition to the charges that stem from the fatal shooting, James had also been wanted on two other arrest warrants, one for breaking or entering and theft of property and the other, a bench warrant that was issued for failure to appear Oct. 18 in Union County Circuit Court.
The bench warrant was connected to an arrest in April on felony drug and fleeing (auto) charges.
On Friday, Barker presided over separate first appearance hearings on each warrant.
The courtroom was flanked by officers from the El Dorado Police Department and the Union County Sheriff’s Office.
Barker explained that threats of violence and retaliation against James had “made it back to” EPD investigators.
During James’ first appearance hearings, Barker restricted courtroom access to immediate family members of the victims and the defendant, the media and law enforcement officers.
“In situations like this, I think I’d be derelict in my duties to the safety of the public, the defendant and law enforcement if I didn’t,” Barker said.
“I don’t believe the courtroom should be closed off, but I can tailor first appearances for safety concerns, so he can have a fair first appearance,” the judge said.
Just before the court session started, sobs could be heard from a woman in the back of the courtroom as law enforcement officers led James from the county jail and through the courtroom to another area.
The woman was identified by law enforcement officers as James’ mother.
During James’ initial hearing, Barker determined that James was indigent and appointed him a public defender.
The judge then suspended the hearing and rescheduled it to Monday after James declined to waive his right to speak
with his attorney or family members prior to Baker setting bond.
James was later called back to the podium after Barker learned from the Arkansas Public Defender Commission that the James Law Firm in Little Rock would be representing James.
A second hearing was convened for James, who was joined by attorney Michael Kaiser of James Law Firm.
Kaiser met with James prior to the start of the second hearing.
Kaiser requested a bond of $100,000 on the charges connected to the Oct. 28 shooting and a reduction of a $100,000 bond that was set for the charges stemming from the April arrest.
The defense attorney argued that James, a 2014 graduate of El Dorado High School, has lived in El Dorado for most of his life, has a 2-year-old child whose mother is experiencing mental health issues and does not have a car to flee.
Lane Reeder, deputy prosecutor for the 13th Judicial District, argued that James is a threat to society and a proven flight risk.
Reeder pointed out that James twice fled to Texas after being identified as a suspect in two crimes this year, one being the Oct. 28 shooting.
Reeder said James also fled to Texas in September after he was accused of stealing $7,250.72 cash from McDonald’s, 1703 N. West Ave.
James was an employee of the business at the time and had returned from Texas shortly before the fatal shooting in October.
When Barker upheld the $100,000 bond in connection to theft and banned James from McDonald’s and from having contact with employees of the fast-food restaurant, Kaiser noted that James would already be held without bond on the capital murder charges.
“Whether it’s $100,000 or $10,000, functionally, there’s no difference,” Kaiser said.
Barker said James’ cases will be bound over to Circuit Court for further proceedings.