Local man acquitted of capital murder
A Garland County Circuit Court jury deliberated for less than 30 minutes before acquitting a Hot Springs of capital murder in the 2010 shooting death of a Malvern man at a local apartment complex.
Detric Lavon Conway, 37, was facing life in prison without parole if convicted in the July 5, 2010, death of Jacquard Q. Clark, 36, who was shot and killed at his girlfriend’s apartment at 108 Bailey Place, located off Park Avenue.
Conway is already serving 36 years in prison after pleading guilty last year to the July 13, 2010, armed robbery of the Hometown Pharmacy, 2228 Albert Pike, and the June 21, 2010, armed robbery of Phil’s Eastside Pharmacy in Glenwood.
A Glock .40- caliber handgun recovered after the Hometown robbery was later found to be the murder weapon in Clark’s death, which led to Conway being developed as a suspect.
“We knew from the beginning this was one that could go either way, but we went forward with the best case we had,” Deputy Prosecutor Joe Graham said shortly after the verdict was reached, following a three- day trial.
“We knew a lot more about this defendant that we couldn’t convey to the jury,” he said.
That included the fact Conway, along with two alleged accomplices, his brother, Samuel Lee Conway, 24, and a female, Dominic N. Hobson, 23, were charged with capital murder, aggravated robbery and residential burglary for the March 14, 2005, death of Mary Anderson, 50, at her son’s residence at
117 Maurice St.
Hobson was convicted Sept. 29, 2011, of first- degree murder and aggravated robbery following a trial. The charges are still pending against Sam Conway, who is set to stand trial June 4, but Graham said the charges against Detric Conway were being withdrawn because the main evidence involved statements of co- defendants that were inadmissible.
In his closing arguments Thursday, Graham said evidence at the Hometown robbery proved Conway was the one armed with the .40- caliber that day and put him at the scene of the Clark murder eight days earlier.
While witness testimony indicated there were four suspects involved in the robbery of Clark that led to his death, Graham told the eight- woman, four- man jury that under “accomplice liability” if Conway was one of the four involved he was still guilty of capital murder even if he didn’t pull the trigger.
Graham noted that in both the Hometown robbery and the Clark robbery, it involved three suspects wearing all black clothing and one suspect wearing a light gray sweatshirt which was proven to be Conway in the Hometown robbery.
In the Hometown security footage, he said, Conway was seen carrying a black tote bag and wearing a white sock covering his hand. The bag was later recovered with the murder weapon inside along with the white sock, which had Conway’s DNA.
Graham said two of the suspects had firearms in the robbery, Conway and Richard Dewayne Johnson, 38, who was also arrested. He said there was no evidence Conway was armed with a BB gun, as his defense attorneys had argued.
In testimony Thursday, the pharmacist at Hometown said it was Johnson who had held the gun to her head the whole time during the robbery while the other three collected drugs and money.
She said Johnson, “who seemed to be the leader,” had a small black handgun that “looked like my husband’s Glock,” but admitted under cross she couldn’t say for certain.
He also argued that the testimony of Conway’s friend, Larry Thompson, who said Conway had confessed about the robbery and murder to him, was “credible and reasonable” because “everything he said matched what was found at the scene.”
He admitted Thompson “got a bargain” for testifying with his sentence in another case reduced, but argued, “He told the truth.”
In his closing, Conway’s attorney, Joseph Blake Hendrix Jr., said the prosecution’s case “boils down to a few simple assumptions” based on Conway supposedly having the Glock at the Hometown robbery “so he must have used it eight days earlier” and a sock being found at the murder scene, since Conway wore a sock during the later robbery.
“And you also have to assume Larry Thompson is telling the truth. That’s all the state’s case is and it fails utterly at proving his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Hendrix said Thompson was “going to die in prison” and “he found his way out.” He said incriminating Conway was “his ticket to freedom,” and he could be released in less than a year because of the plea bargain reached.
Hendrix acknowledged it was proven the same Glock was used in both crimes, but argued the state failed to prove Conway had the gun in the Hometown robbery. “There was no physical evidence ( Conway) ever had the gun in his possession,” he said. “It was found along the escape route of multiple persons fleeing the scene of a robbery.”
He argued that the fact Conway surrendered to police while Johnson was found hiding in the woods “tells you about culpability and who was the most guilty” in the Hometown robbery.
He noted Durbin’s testimony about Johnson being the apparent ringleader and asked, “Who was more likely to have the gun? The ringleader.” He said Conway was “just a thief.”
He noted earlier testimony from Conway’s nephew, Anthony Conway Jr., about Detric Conway owning a BB gun that looked like a real handgun that they used in filming a rap video.
“We know Detric owned a BB gun and evidence shows that’s what he was carrying. It makes rational, logical, common sense,” he said.
Hendrix also noted testimony from Dr. Stephen Erickson, the medical examiner, who said the bullet that killed Clark traveled in a straight path through his head from the front to the back.
Hendrix noted it didn’t angle up or down, which meant the person who shot Clark had to be taller. He noted Clark and Conway are basically the same height, about 5 feet, 7 inches, but Johnson and Thompson are both 5 feet, 11 inches.
He also noted there was no evidence of any connection between Conway and Clark, but there was testimony Thompson knew Clark’s girlfriend. There was also testimony Clark’s girlfriend had accused him of cheating on her the night he was killed and had threatened him in the past.
He also noted earlier testimony that the girlfriend’s younger sister had stolen $ 4,000 from Clark in the past using a key to the apartment. He said the Glock could be traced back to being sold at a Georgia pawn shop in 2002 and noted Thompson was reportedly in Georgia in 2002.
“The Glock came out of Georgia while Thompson was there and ended up here in Arkansas the same time as Thompson.”
Anthony Conway had testified earlier he and Detric Conway were at the home of Roderick Alexander on the night of July 4, and Anthony said when he left around 1 a. m. Detric was still there and he was still there when he returned the next day.
The murder of Clark is believed to have occurred around 2 a. m. on July 5.
Alexander testified he remembered Detric spending the night at his house with a female, but he couldn’t say for sure if it was July 4. The female with Conway, Shaylah Kriese, testified she spent the night with Detric Conway at Alexander’s house, but admitted she was “on a lot of drugs” and couldn’t be sure of the date.
Hendrix argued that “it’s hard to remember details” after three years and that the witnesses “had no reason to lie for him.”
He urged the jury to vote “not guilty,” saying, “Someone out there murdered Jacquard Clark and they’re still out there. They got the wrong guy.” Conway was also represented by attorney Jordan Tinsley.