As more evidence surfaced in the aggravated robbery case filed against Keylan Banks, prosecutors moved to dismiss all charges against the Conway man on Monday.
“Due to the discovery of subsequent evidence and information, the State elects not to prosecute,” 20th Judicial District Deputy Prosecutor Cortney Kennedy wrote in the dismissal order that was filed in Faulkner County Circuit Court at 2:08 p.m. Monday.
The deputy prosecutor told the Log Cabin Democrat that the case was dropped as more evidence surrounding the shooting surfaced.
“In every case filed, we have an obligation to see that justice is done,” she said. “Further investigation into this case revealed exculpatory information that required us to not proceed with the case against Mr. Banks.”
Online records also show the man who claimed to be the victim in this case now faces charges in an unrelated case.
Banks had been charged with two Class Y felonies – aggravated robbery and aggravated residential burglary – as well as an aggravated assault charge, which is a Class D felony, following a July 3 shooting at the Westlake Apartments that left him injured.
“He was shot, went to the emergency room, released from the hospital only to be picked up,” Banks’ attorney George “Birc” Morledge IV said Tuesday.
Morledge said it was a relief for Banks and his family to learn the case was dismissed.
“He was extremely exited,” Morledge said of Banks’ reaction to hearing the case had been dropped. “You could hear it in his voice.”
The 23-year-old Conway man had been held in the Faulkner County Detention Center in lieu of a $500,000 bond until late-August. Morledge pushed for a bond reduction in his client’s case and Circuit Judge Troy B. Braswell Jr. ultimately ruled in his favor on Aug. 20 and reduced Banks’ bond to $25,000.
“His family scraped up the money about two days later” and bonded him out,” Morledge told the LCD.
While conducting its own investigation, the defense found several SnapChat videos and other exculpatory evidence that was subsequently submitted to the prosecutor’s office.
After receiving the evidence from Banks’ attorney along with evidence seized during a search warrant that was conducted by the Conway Police Department on Aug. 23, the prosecutor’s office is now seeking charges against Victor Dukes, who had claimed to be Banks’ victim.
“We did our own investigation … [and were able to] provide the prosecution with the ammunition to do the right thing,” Morledge said.
The defense attorney said he was thankful that Kennedy listened to the facts surrounding the case.
“She did a good job listening to the facts. I was very impressed with her,” Morledge said. “You have to not have just blinders on when you prosecute people and defend them to really know what’s going on.”
The case stems from a shooting at the Westlake Apartments in Conway.
Apartment complex staff called authorities after Banks walked into the front office with a gunshot wound in his right side.
While at the hospital, Banks told police he was “hanging out” with Dukes when the Jonesboro man accused him of breaking into his apartment. When he denied breaking into the apartment, Dukes reportedly “pulled [out] his gun and shot him.”
After talking with Dukes following the July shooting, local authorities believed Banks was the aggressor and that Dukes shot him in self defense.
"Upon investigating, detectives found evidence that pointed to Banks being the aggressor," Conway Police Department spokesman LaTresha Woodruff previously said in early July, adding that detectives were led to believe Banks tried to rob Dukes at gunpoint when Dukes ultimately shot Banks "in self defense."
However, the defense was able to show prosecutors that was not the case.
“Keylan was trying to help himself. He was not the aggressor. I think justice was done in this regard,” Morledge said of the case being dismissed.
Recent court filings show that Conway SWAT Team and Narcotics Unit conducted a search warrant at Dukes’ home on Aug. 23 and seized “more than 14 grams of marijuana,” digital scales and “a Glock handgun [that was] loaded [with] hollow point bullets in an extended magazine.”
“All the aforementioned items were found in Dukes’ room,” the search warrant affidavit states.
Following the search, police requested a circuit judge’s OK to review the contents of Dukes’ phone.
Detective Jeran Smith noted in the search warrant request that Dukes is known to sell narcotics using a social media app – Snap Chat. After the search warrant was approved, the data from Dukes’ phone was extracted for further review, according to court documents.
A recent court docket shows Dukes currently faces charges in a drug case but has not yet been formally charged. The potential charges include: maintaining a drug premises, possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, possession of drug paraphernalia and simultaneous possession of drugs and firearms.
Staff writer Marisa Hicks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.