When the system fails…
Slow wheels of justice turn accused killer free
It is frustrating enough for law enforcement to deal with murder suspects being released on loopholes in the Arkansas Bail Bond Board laws but when murder suspects go “scot-free” on a motion to dismiss the charges for violation of a speedy trail there may be a need for public concern.
Recently the Times published an in-depth story on one particular case where West Memphis police arrested a murder suspect and placed the suspect under a $500,000 bond only to be released hours later after posting $5,000 with a local bail bonding company.
Further insight into the state’s judicial system revealed a local murder investigation on Sept. 6, 2017, where police responded to a body laying in the street. When officers arrived they found Willie Emery, 41, at 314 S. 14th St., lying on the ground suffering from a fatal knife wound.
Upon further investigation and interviews with witnesses detectives were able to recover the suspected stainless steel knife and arrested Marcus Jerome Reynolds, 39, of 914 Winchell St., West Memphis, on second degree murder charges, according to records obtained from the West Memphis Police Department following a Freedom of Information request.
Prosecuting Attorney assigned to the case was Allen Ramsey. It was on Oct.
30, 2017, that Reynolds waived formal arraignment and entered a plea of not guilty, at which time a trial date was scheduled for Dec. 11-15, 2017.
Then on Feb. 26, 2018, Reynolds was called three times in court and failed to appear at which time an order for issuance of arrest warrant was made and his bond was declared forfeited.
Then on April 20, 2018, a plea was made for the trial to be held May 7-11, 2018, and on May 8, 2018, Reynolds appeared in court with his attorney, at which time a new trail date was set for Aug. 27-30. On Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018, the case was called for trial on murder charges and the state chose, for reasons unclear, to try the case as a breaking and entering case. Another trial date was then set for Oct. 25, 2018.
Then on May 24, 2019, a motion was made to dismiss the charges pursuant to rules of criminal procedure, Rule 28.1 and on May 28, 2018, a motion to dismiss for violation of speedy trial was made.
After thorough examination of the case, the court concluded that more than one year (unexcluded) had expired since Reynolds was originally arrested on September 2017.
Reynolds was then set free and all charges against him dismissed, leaving West Memphis law enforcement to once again place Reynolds on their watch list.
As one law enforcement officer pointed out, “it is situations such as this as well as those involving the state bond laws that make keeping the community safe and reduce crime very difficult.”
In this particular case, a man had been arrested and charged with murder and the West Memphis Police did their job expeditiously. But because the trial was postponed several times and because of judicial criminal procedure pertaining to the right of a “speedy trial” the motion was made and granted to dismiss the charges, allowing Reynolds to go free.