Monday, December 1, 2008

Arkansas: Rejection

KTHV reports the State's Parole Board, in a 5-0 vote, has rejected a clemency request by 29-year-old Richard Cox who is serving a life sentence for a killing he committed when he was 16-years old. The facts of his case were summarized in a court opinion as follows:
In the early morning hours of May 18, 1996, Kingrale Collins, who was in his twenties, and Cox, who was age sixteen at the time, went to Collins's house in Wynne and got Collins's 12 gauge pump shotgun and shotgun shells. The handle of the shotgun was taped with gray tape. Cox carried the shotgun until the two young men crossed the railroad tracks when he handed it to Collins. Cox said that Collins told him he was "going to get some money" that was owed him. Cox and Collins first stopped at a house trailer and knocked on the door. No one answered, and they left.

According to Cox, Collins then stopped at two more residences by himself, a white house and an apartment complex, and knocked on the doors, while Cox watched from a distance. Two witnesses for the State, Charlotte Archer and Greg Wilson, confirmed that they had heard knocks on their doors during this time period. Ms. Archer testified that she looked through a window and saw two young black males standing at her door. She did not answer the door. Greg Wilson testifiedthat at about 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. he heard someone beating on his door. He went to the door, and no one was there. Later, he heard shots and went out to his porch where he saw "two guys" running down the street with a shotgun.

According to Johnny Strickland, the husband of the murder victim, he was in the bathroom having just arrived at a friend's house with his wife at around 2:30 a.m. He heard shots, ran out to the living room, and found his wife on the floor in a pool of blood in front of the door. She showed no signs of life. Dr. Stephen Erickson, a forensic pathologist with the State Crime Lab, testified that she died from a single shotgun wound to the right arm, and right chest.

In Cox's statement to Wynne police officers, he denied going to the front door where Holly Strickland was killed but stated that he heard three shots and heard the victim scream. He admitted that his finger prints were on two of the loaded shells in the shotgun and on the trigger as well. He denied killing Holly Strickland, however, and was adamant that Collins had done it. He did admit to carrying and hiding the shotgun as he ran away from the crime scene with Collins. When asked what would have happened if the man in the trailer had opened his door, Cox answered: "I guess he would have shothim." He told interrogating police officers that Collins asked him to imitate the victim's scream, and when Cox did, Collins laughed.
Cox was convicted by an all-white jury. See story here.

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