A Faulkner County Circuit Court judge on Friday morning denied a motion to dismiss charges against Richard Conte, who is accused of murdering two people in Conway about 10 years ago.
Conte, 62, is scheduled to stand trial July 10 for allegedly shooting to death Carter Elliott and Timothy Robertson at Elliott’s home on May 19, 2002.
Conte was extradited to Arkansas shortly before being paroled from a Nevada correctional facility, where he was serving a nine-year sentence for kidnapping his ex-wife, Lark Gathright-Elliott. Before marrying Conte, she was married to Elliott.
Jack Lassiter of Little Rock, Conte’s lawyer, told Circuit Judge Charles Clawson during a hearing Tuesday that charges against his client should be dismissed because of a delay by the prosecution to file charges following the murder.
Lassiter also noted that a key alibi witness in the case, William Pringle, died in 2008. The defense has contended that Pringle’s testimony would have placed Conte in Utah at the time of the murders.
A Conway police investigator testified Tuesday that he learned of the death of Pringle only after charges against Conte had been filed. Evidence in the ongoing investigation was presented to two previous prosecuting attorneys without charges being filed against Conte.
Clawson said in his ruling Friday that the state had presented "a satisfactory reason for the delay." He also granted the state’s motion for a continuance until July because of the illness of a prosecutor involved with the case.
"Obviously we are pleased with judge’s decision and appreciate his thorough review of a complicated issue," Prosecuting Attorney Cody Hiland said.
Lassiter was unavailable for comment following Friday’s hearing.
Conte has pleaded not guilty and is being held without bond at the Faulkner County Detention Center.
Conte is a former emergency room doctor in Nevada. He also owned a cabin in Utah.
(Megan Reynolds is the staff writer and can be reached at 505-1277 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. To comment on this story and others, visit www.thecabin.net)