Circuit Judge Charles Clawson on Friday denied the state’s request for a mental evaluation on a former emergency room doctor accused in a 2002 double homicide.
Meanwhile, defense attorney Jack Lassiter has filed a motion to dismiss charges against Richard Conte, 61, based on prosecutorial delay. The defense has also claimed that a witness in the case has died.
"I hope the motion is granted," Lassiter said. "I can’t guess which way a judge will lean, but let’s just say I’m optimistic about the outcome."
A pretrial hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, April 24, in Faulkner County Circuit Court in Conway. If the charges against Conte are not dismissed on that date, his trial is scheduled to begin Monday, May 7.
Conte was charged last August in the shooting deaths of Carter Elliott and Timothy Robertson at Elliott’s home in Conway. Conte pleaded not guilty.
The charges were filed two days before Conte was to be released from a Nevada correctional facility. He was serving year nine of a 15-year sentence for drugging, kidnapping and holding his ex-wife, Lark Guthright-Elliott against her will at his Douglas County, Nev., home about a month after the Conway murders. Guthright-Elliott also is Carter Elliott’s ex-wife.
Conte was extradited to Faulkner County in October to enter a plea on the murder charges.
Carter Elliott owned industrial solvent manufacturer Detco and was a mentor to Robertson. The pair were building a deck for Elliott’s home in the Shady Valley subdivision in west Conway when they were killed on May 18, 2002.
Investigators considered Conte a prime suspect in the case, but he was not arrested at the time of the murders because evidence against him was considered circumstantial.
Evidence that eventually linked Conte to the murders included copies of downloaded Conway maps and scanner frequencies for local police agencies on his computer.
H.G. Foster was prosecuting attorney at the time of the murders. Marcus Vaden took over the position in 2006 and current Prosecuting Attorney Cody Hiland followed in 2010.
(Staff writer Megan Reynolds can be reached by phone at 505-1277 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. To comment on this story and others, visit www.thecabin.net)