Circuit Judge Charles Clawson said Tuesday that he will rule before week’s end on a motion to dismiss charges against a former emergency room doctor accused of killing two people in Conway almost 10 years ago.

Richard Conte, 62, was charged in August 2011. His defense lawyer, Jack Lassiter of Little Rock, cited prosecutorial delay in filing a motion recently to dismiss charges against Conte.

The defense also has claimed that William Pringle, a key witness whose testimony would place Conte in Utah at the time of the murders, died in 2008.

“I’d be less than honest if I didn’t tell you I was concerned about the delay and the loss of Mr. Pringle,” Clawson said Tuesday afternoon during a hearing in Faulkner County Circuit Court in Conway.

Clawson said he wants to review materials submitted by the defense on Tuesday, including a synopsis of an interview with Pringle and a videotaped interview with Conte from 2008, before ruling on the motion.

Two previous prosecutors reviewed Conte’s case but did not file charges against him. Charges were filed by current Prosecuting Attorney Cody Hiland.

Conte is charged in the May 19, 2002, shooting deaths of Carter Elliott and Timothy Robertson at Elliott’s home in Conway. Conte was extradited to Arkansas shortly before being paroled from a Nevada correctional facility, where he was serving a nine-year sentence for kidnapping his ex-wife, Lark Gathright-Elliott. She was previously married to Elliott.

Conte claimed he was at a cabin he owned near Duck Creek, Utah, at the time of the murders. Defense attorneys say Pringle would have testified that Conte was at the cabin during that period.

Conte was a resident of Carson City, Nev., and was an emergency room doctor there.

He pleaded not guilty and is being held without bail at the Faulkner County jail.

Prosecutors said they may file a motion for continuance because a deputy prosecutor involved with the case is experiencing health issues.

The trial is scheduled to begin May 7.  

(Staff writer Megan Reynolds can be reached by phone at 505-1277 or by e-mail at To comment on this story and others, visit