Justice Building

The defense team walks out of the Justice Building shortly after 5 p.m. Wednesday following a nearly-four-week-long trial against their client, Tacori D. Mackrell. Mackrell was found guilty of capital murder and sentenced to life in prison.

A Faulkner County jury of eight women and four men deliberated for two hours and 20 minutes before sentencing Tacori D. Mackrell to life in prison without parole.

The 20-year-old Pine Bluff man cried heavily and his family wept at the back of the courtroom late Wednesday afternoon as Judge Troy Braswell read aloud the jury’s verdict.

Mackrell faced either life in prison or the death penalty for kidnapping and killing Elvia Fragstein, 72, of Wooster.

Mackrell was 18 years old when he killed the Wooster woman. His cousin, Robert L. Smith III, was 16 at the time and has been charged as an adult with capital murder, kidnapping, aggravated robbery and theft of property. Smith’s trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 2.

Defense attorneys William “Bill” James Jr. and Jeff Rosenzweig said they were pleased with the outcome of the case.

“We started this case wanting life,” James said.

Before the jury began deliberating, the defense attorney pleaded for mercy.

“Mercy is given, not necessarily deserved. We’re asking for mercy,” James said. “Your vote for life means no one else dies.”

Twentieth Judicial District Prosecutor Carol Crews said she and senior deputy prosecutor John Hout respected the jury’s decision and dedication to serving on this case.

“It was an honor to fight for this family and for this community,” Crews said. “Justice was done. Tacori Mackrell was found guilty on all charges.”

Mackrell was found guilty as charged – capital murder, kidnapping, aggravated robbery and theft of property – last week and ultimately sentenced at 4:42 p.m. Wednesday.

Once the circuit judge read aloud the jury’s verdict and the jury had been excused, Mackrell said he wanted to apologize to Fragstein’s family.

“One thing I do want to say – I want to tell Mrs. Fragstein’s family I’m truly sorry and I hope they forgive me,” Mackrell said.

The defense team spoke outside the courthouse about the case and said they believed Mackrell has matured since he killed Fragstein.

Through it’s own investigation, the defense team located two of Mackrell’s siblings that he had never met before. The brothers were taken by the Department of Human Services from Mackrell’s mother before he was born and later were adopted.

“Within 24 hours they had established a relationship,” Rosenzweig said of finding Mackrell’s siblings.

Mackrell and the two brothers call each other often and met for the first time during Mackrell’s capital murder trial.

Jurors were tasked with 121 mitigating factors when determining whether Mackrell would be sentenced to life or death.

The jury agreed prosecutors had proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Mackrell killed Fragstein for pecuniary gain and an especially cruel manner and that these aggravating factors outweighed all the mitigating factors submitted by the defense team.

Staff writer Marisa Hicks can be reached at mhicks@the


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