A Conway man sentenced to life in prison last year on a capital murder charges hopes to reach a deal with prosecutors regarding a false imprisonment case he still faces that stems from the same night.
Sammie Lee Thomas Jr., 41, was found guilty of capital murder by a Faulkner County jury in September and sentenced to life in prison for the shooting death of 66-year-old Robert Lee Givens. Thomas was charged with capital murder after an investigation by Conway police placed him at the scene of the Sept. 9, 2016, shooting death of Givens. Later that night, authorities were called to a local motel and pinpointed him as the suspect.
Givens was shot to death around 1 a.m. on the night in question near the intersection of Donaghey Avenue and Independence Street after meeting his daughter in the area to fix a flat tire on her vehicle. He was driving his daughter back to her vehicle after purchasing Fix-a-flat when an SUV behind them began flashing its headlights. Witnesses said a black male was driving the tan-colored SUV with a white woman in the passenger seat.
Givens’ daughter said that when her dad pulled over, he and Thomas exchanged words.
Thomas said something along the lines of “I thought you were someone else” before he shot Givens and drove away. The now-41-year-old was out looking for his girlfriend when he ultimately shot Givens, who he mistakenly thought was another man riding around with his girlfriend.
Thomas faces additional charges — first-degree false imprisonment, third-degree domestic battery and criminal mischief — following a 911 call made later that night from the Holiday Inn Express.
Police were alerted that a man was beating a woman in one of the rooms at the hotel. Once officers arrived on scene, they found a woman with a swollen left cheek and left ear who “was crying and her hands were shaking,” according to a felony probable cause affidavit previously filed against Givens.
The woman, who was Givens’ girlfriend, told authorities a friend rented the room “to hide her away from Thomas.”
She went to the emergency room earlier that night after he followed her car to the sheriff’s department and threw a flashlight through the window, striking her left temple and getting glass in her eye.
When police responded to Holiday Inn Express, they noted the “cut on her face was broken open again,” the affidavit states.
Thomas, who was wearing a neck brace and assisted by a walker as he stood next to defense attorney Margaret Depper, appeared Thursday in Faulkner County Circuit Court for a brief hearing before Judge Charles “Ed” Clawson.
The 41-year-old was set to stand trial on July 15 and 16 regarding the false imprisonment allegations. However, Depper requested to cancel the trial in hopes the defense could reach a plea agreement with prosecutors.
“At this point, we’re in the negotiation stages,” she said.
Clawson agreed to remove the matter from the trial docket. If the two parties are unable to reach an agreement by Aug. 12, Clawson said he would reschedule the two-day trial.