White Quar­ters shoot­ing sus­pect makes ap­pear­ance in dis­trict court

El Dorado News-Times - - Front Page - By Tia Lyons Staff Writer

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.

28.

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.

James

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