A Greenbrier man accused of negligent homicide following a fatal crash in 2016 was convicted on Tuesday with his second DWI in an unrelated case.
Lumas James Barker, 28, was pulled over by a Greenbrier officer shortly after 2 a.m. Sept. 23, 2017, after speeding along Highway 65 and swerving in and out of his lane.
Cpl. Billy Cockrell conducted the stop. While speaking with the 28-year-old Greenbrier man, Cockrell said he noticed Barker smelled of alcohol, had bloodshot eyes and also learned the man was involved in a fatal crash in late 2016.
Following the stop, Barker was charged with a DWI II, careless and prohibited driving, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. Barker previously pleaded not guilty to the allegations and, despite an attempt by defense attorney James Wyatt on Tuesday to again delay the case, a trial was held Tuesday morning in Greenbrier District Court.
The motion to continue the matter was filed and rejected last week. Before testimony began, Wyatt asked District Judge Chris R. Carnahan to reconsider his decision, because his client “also has a serious case in Faulkner County.”
“My attempt was to avoid any … conviction prior [to that] … Let us get his circuit case done,” he said. “There’s some other consequences in play.”
During this plea, Wyatt referenced Barker’s circuit court case.
The Greenbrier man faces a negligent homicide charge that stems from a December crash along Highway 65 that left one woman dead. Barker also suffered injuries in the crash.
Immediately after Carnahan denied the request to delay the previously-scheduled trial, Prosecutor Dustin Chapman called Cockrell to the stand.
The night Barker was pulled over, he neglected to turn off his bright lights when driving into town, drove 58 mph in a 45-mph zone, swerved into another lane and then continued speeding when the speed limit dropped, Cockrell said.
According to the Greenbrier officer’s testimony, he first estimated Barker was driving at 60 mph and locked it at 58 using his radar detector. Once the speed limit dropped to 40-mph zone, the suspect continued on at 54 mph when Cockrell opted to turn on his blue lights and conduct a traffic stop. Cockrell described the way Barker was driving that night as “hideous.”
As the Greenbrier officer walked up to Barker’s gray Honda pickup truck, he asked Barker how much he’d been drinking that night. The now-28-year-old admitted to having three Crown Royal mixed drinks.
Wyatt argued this statement should not be considered as evidence because his client had not been given his Miranda Rights at that point. Wyatt also objected to the Breathalyzer results, because he was not given the officer’s certifications prior to trial.
Barker’s initial confession was suppressed. However, he later admitted to having the three mixed drinks upon receiving his Miranda Rights. Judge Carnahan did rule in Wyatt’s favor regarding the Breathalyzer results.
Despite the judge’s ruling, Chapman said he was prepared to prove Barker was intoxicated the night Cockrell pulled him over.
“We can meet our burden without the intoximeter results,” he said. “We’ll do it the old-fashioned way.”
Both the dash camera and Cockrell’s body camera footage from the traffic stop were displayed before court officials Tuesday morning. In the video, viewers could see Barker swerve into the turn lane by McDonald’s after passing the traffic light at the Highway 25 and Highway 65 intersection. Immediately after swerving into the turn lane, Barker jerked his vehicle back into his lane and then turned into the outside lane moments before Cockrell initiated the traffic stop.
Wyatt argued that it’s “not illegal to have a drink and drive. It’s illegal to drive while impaired.”
In a counter argument, Chapman said the defendant wasn’t “sloppy” drunk, but did show signs of impairment during the field sobriety tests conducted on scene.
Carnahan agreed with Chapman.
“I was able to see some of the clues,” Carnahan said of Barker’s eye movements during the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test after watching Cockrell’s body camera footage. “That’s why I love body cameras.”
Barker also made an improper turn and took an extra step during the walk-and-turn test.
While the Arkansas State Crime Lab verified that the substance collected by Sgt. Nicholas Diemer during an inventory search of Barker’s vehicle was marijuana, the possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia charges filed against the now-28-year-old were ultimately dropped. The charges were dismissed because the contraband was not brought into court to enter as evidence before the judge.
Because the Greenbrier man was convicted of a DWI in Conway District Court in 2013, Carnahan found him guilty of a DWI II. Barker was also found guilty of careless and prohibited driving. The Greenbrier resident must serve 20 days behind bars within the next 120 days and pay $2,205 in fines. He was also placed on one year of probation following Tuesday’s trial.
Regarding the negligent homicide case filed against Barker, the Greenbrier man appeared in Faulkner County Circuit Court last week and waived his right to a jury trial. Instead, he has opted for a bench trial before Circuit Judge Charles “Ed” Clawson Jr. The bench trial is set to begin at 9 a.m. Sept. 20 in Faulkner County Circuit Court.