A 24-year-old Mayflower man was sentenced Thursday to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to setting fire to Building A at the Queens Manor Apartments in October 2017.
Carlon Elias Ricks pleaded guilty to one count of arson shortly before 10 a.m. Thursday in Faulkner County Circuit Court and admitted to setting fire to a 16-unit apartment building along Highway 365 on Oct. 14, 2017. It was a fire that blazed for hours and displaced 14 families.
"Although thankfully no one was injured in the arson, Mr. Ricks committed a dangerous crime and will bow be serving a 20-year sentence for that crime," Prosecuting Attorney Carol Crews said. "The Prosecutor's Office will continue to be zealous in the prosecution of violent crimes and crimes against property."
Ricks was accompanied by his attorney, Ron Davis Jr., when he pleaded guilty to the negotiated plea.
The Faulkner County Sheriff's Office responded to Queens Manor alongside the Mayflower Fire Department shortly before 6:30 p.m. on the night in question.
According to statements made to deputies the night of the fire, other tenants suspected the fire was intentional "as [an act of] retaliation from the homicide that occurred on October 2nd 2017."
On Oct. 2, 2017, 44-year-old Issac Jermaine Scott was fount shot to death at 3 a.m. at the apartment complex. Investigators believe Scott was murdered outside of the apartments, citing shell cases were located outside of Building C. Phalon Tennant-Harmon is suspected in Scott's death, and is scheduled to appear in circuit court on March 11 for a pretrial hearing regarding the allegations against him.
According to a probable cause affidavit, Ricks was seen leaving apartment A2 five times before the evening fire destroyed the building on Saturday, Oct. 14.
Parking parallel to the building at 6:02 p.m., he is seen in security footage making four initial trips back and forth to a gold Chevrolet Impala, loading items including his clothes and a TV, the affidavit states. During these trips, the front door to the apartment was left open.
“At 6:06 p.m. Carlon Ricks went into apartment “A2″ for the fifth time and he closed the front door behind him,” the affidavit reads. At 6:07 p.m. Carlon Ricks exits apartment “A2″, closing the door behind him. He then gets in his car and leaves the apartment building headed north on Highway 365 South.”
Five minutes later, “heavy black smoke” was seen pouring from the cracks of apartment A2′s front door.
According to a search warrant of the apartment that was conducted the following Monday, four cans of paint were found in the apartment. Investigators believe this was the source of the flames that destroyed the building.
Court documents note that Ricks and fellow tenant Arkemia Brock filled out paperwork and paid $75 to move into apartment A2 on Oct. 5. The next day, Brock paid an additional $75.
When questioned by police, Brock said she was unsure as to how Ricks got into the apartment because she had the only key.
Ricks later agreed to speak with investigators, where he initially stated he left the apartment around 4 p.m. Oct. 14 to leave for a party being held in Russellville.
Investigators confronted Ricks about the time stamp on the security footage, that shows Ricks going in and out of apartment A2.
According to the affidavit, Ricks admitted to entering the apartment by using his ID “to manipulate the lock mechanism and open the door.”
Ricks was also ordered to pay restitution in the matter, although an exact amount to be repaid has not yet been determined.