The four men charged with two counts each capital murder in the University of Central Arkansas campus shooting will stand trial on June 14, barring further delays.
The four suspects, Kawin Jerod Brockman, Kelcey Sharay Perry, Mario LaVelle Toney and Brandon R. Wade, are each charged with the two counts capital murder, as well as one count attempted capital murder, eight counts commission of a terroristic act, possession of a handgun on a public school campus, possession of a firearm by certain persons and unlawful discharge of a firearm. All but Wade, who had a Bigelow address, had Conway addresses at the time of the shooting. All were arrested within 24 hours of the shooting and all were ordered to be held without bond.
It is alleged that on Oct. 26, 2008, the four suspects drove onto the UCA campus, each with the intent to commit murder. Eight shots were fired, some of them into a crowd that had gathered outside of Arkansas Hall, killing two and injuring one.
Authorities have said that the two men killed in the shooting, Ryan Henderson, 18, of Little Rock, and Chavares Block, 19, of Dermott, were not the shooter’s intended targets. Authorities have also said that the shooting may have been committed in retaliation for a Pine Bluff shooting in the early morning hours of Oct. 26, 2008. Pine Bluff Police Department public information officer Bob Rawlinson said in October 2009, that his department had been working with UCAPD to fully establish whatever connection may have existed between the two incidents.
Capt. Justin Tapley of the University of Central Arkansas Police Department said during pretrial proceedings in 2008 and 2009 that investigators with his department have reason to believe, based on statements from other defendants, that it was Perry who pulled the trigger.
Motions were made in March 2009 by attorneys representing the suspects that the defendants be tried separately. Vaden said on Wednesday that he would be proceeding with a motion to rejoin the four to stand trial together, hopefully on June 14.
"They did the crime together; we would like for them to be tried together," Vaden said.
Ongoing mental evaluations of the defendants or scheduling issues with witnesses may still delay the trial, Vaden said, but Circuit Judge Charles "Ed" Clawson, "will give us all the time we need, but he will not unnecessarily delay it."
Vaden added that with the charge of capital murder "it’s always presumed that the death penalty is still on the table, and I have not waived that."
"I’m going to leave that up to the jury to decide, at least as an option," Vaden said. "We had two innocent bystanders who were killed, both very good young men. Based on the facts of the case, I think it’s the right thing to do to have that as an option."
(Staff writer Joe Lamb can be reached at 505-1238 or by E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit.)