The suspect in a 2013 murder in Greenbrier pleaded not guilty in Faulkner County Circuit Court Wednesday to an amended capital murder charge.
Howard Dallas Short II, 39, 18 Collier Drive in Greenbrier, first entered a not guilty plea in October to a first-degree murder charge in the death of 64-year-old Michael Wayne Robb, who was found dead at his Greenbrier residence at 27 Wilson Road on Aug. 6 of last year.
Felony information filed Wednesday by 20th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Cody Hiland amended the state’s charge from first-degree to capital murder, stating the defendant premeditated Robb’s death.
Robb, also of Greenbrier, had been reported missing by his sister before police found him at his home.
In the course of the initial investigation into Robb’s death, authorities found his vehicle was missing and discovered activity on his bank account, according to a prosecutor’s affidavit.
According to the probably cause information filed by the Criminal Investigations Department of the Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office, Short used Robb’s bank account to make purchases at several locations in and around Conway.
A statewide alert was issued in an attempt to locate Short, and an off-duty officer spotted him at McDonald’s in Atkins.
The case information states Short fled the scene and a high-speed pursuit ensued on Interstate 40.
Other charges related to the incident and capital murder charge include fleeing and forgery.
"Anytime the state prosecutes a case we need to possess evidence sufficient to establish probable cause that a defendant committed all elements of the crime," said Troy Braswell, deputy prosecutor. "Thanks to the ongoing efforts of the Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office investigators, the state has received additional information which establishes probable cause to support a charge of capital murder, which requires the element of premeditation and deliberation."
Asked if the state would seek the death penalty in the event Short is charged with capital murder, Braswell said, "There are many factors that go into a decision to seek the death penalty, in particular, the comparison of aggravators and mitigators, which is required by Arkansas law. Obviously, our amending the charge from murder in the first degree to capital murder puts the death penalty on the table, and we will be making that determination within the next few weeks."
A prosecutor’s affidavit filed with the first-degree murder charge in September of last year states Short confessed to killing Robb in an investigator interview on Aug. 8, two days after Robb was found dead.