A man accused in the 2012 shooting death of Billy Joe “B.J.” Ewing was sentenced to 55 years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections Wednesday in Faulkner County Circuit Court.
Clayton Monsees, 31, was charged with capital murder following the Mar. 20 shooting and stabbing death of B.J. at his home on Laramie Road in Faulkner County.
He pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of first-degree murder.
Prosecutors have also charged Ewing’s wife and Monsees’ ex-wife, Amanda Leigh Ewing, 27, as an accomplice in his murder.
Monsees appeared thin and frail as he was pushed to the stand in a wheelchair before Judge Michael Maggio.
Monsees was covered in a blanket, with his legs folded beneath him.
Answering questions by his attorney, Monsees acknowledged he had been diagnosed with a serious medical condition.
Monsees testified Wednesday that he had been corresponding with Amanda via e-mail prior to his arrival at the residence. Monsees said he had been led to believe that she and her children were being abused by B.J.
He left his home in Wisconsin the day before the murder on a Greyhound bus, and caught a ride to Greenbrier to meet Amanda at the home she shared with B.J. and their three children.
Monsees told the court Amanda moved the children to a bedroom while he waited with a gun for B.J. to return home from work.
Investigators said that gun was a .22 caliber rifle.
When B.J. entered the residence, Monsees says he shot him, and after a brief struggle, stabbed him in the shoulder.
Monsees admitted he fled the residence following the incident and hid from authorities. He said he learned of B.J.’s death upon apprehension the following day.
Ewing was able to make it across the yard to his mother’s home, and gave a statement to his mother implicating his attacker. He was transported by ambulance to Conway Regional Medical Center, where he later succumbed to his injuries.
Amanda Ewing was arrested on April 4.
Monsees was sentenced to 40 years for the first-degree murder charge, another 10 years for committing the offense in the presence of minors and five years for using a firearm.
Each term will run consecutively. He was credited for 315 days in jail.
Monsees asked permission to address the victim's family members, including his mother, who were sitting in the front row in the courtroom.
“I’m sorry. I was wrong and it should never have happened. I hope you’ll find it in your heart to forgive me,” he said.
As Monsees was wheeled from the courtroom, he again mouthed the words “I’m sorry," while family members looked on and shook their heads.
Outside of the courtroom, those family members cried and embraced one another.
Prosecutors told Maggio the family knew about the plea agreement and “were OK with it.”
Amanda is set to appear in court for pretrial hearing on Feb. 11.
(Megan Reynolds is a staff writer and can be reached by phone at 501-505-1277 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit us online at www.thecabin.net.)