Week in Review 2-25 to 3-3

And the race is on–for BC judge

Baxter County will have a race for county judge in the May 22nd primary election.

An eleventh-hour attempt by 24-year-old Peter Kashpureff of Mountain Home to file for office Thursday morning as a republican candidate for county judge was questioned on the basis of 25 being the minimum age for the position.

Baxter County and Circuit Clerk Canda Reese said Thursday she had been directed by legal counsel with the Arkansas Secretary of State’s office to allow Kashpureff to file until the matter could be researched.


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Late Friday morning, Reese says she received word from the Secretary of State’s office to place Kashpureff on the ballot as a candidate for county judge based on case law.


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Reese says the dates are critical in this situation because Kashpureff will turn 25 two and a half weeks after the general election.

Kashpureff will face incumbent Judge Mickey Pendergrass in the primary election.


Kirby-Snow files notice of appeal in child abuse case

Alyssia Kirby-Snow, who was found guilty by a Baxter County Circuit Court jury in early February and sentenced to 26 years in prison on charges of permitting child abuse and endangering the welfare of a minor, has now joined her husband in filing notice she intends to appeal her conviction.

The jury found her not guilty of battery in the first degree. She was also ordered to pay a $13,000 fine.

In October last year, her husband, 20-year-old Jonathan Snow, was found guilty by a circuit court jury and sentenced to 41 years in prison. He filed a notice of appeal and is currently being represented by Monticello attorney Gary Potts, according to electronic court records.

Jonathan Snow was found guilty of first-degree battery and endangering the welfare of a minor.

The 31-year-old Alyssia Kirby-Snow has filed papers indicating she is unable to afford legal representation and is asking an attorney be appointed to represent her during the appeal process.

The charges against both parents stemmed from the infliction of serious injuries to their then three-week-old son. At the time of the baby’s birth, the couple lived together in an apartment complex located along State Highway 201 North. They were later married, according to statements made in open court by Alyssia Kirby-Snow.

Charges were filed against the couple as the result of an investigation launched in late February 2016 when the Mountain Home Police Department received a report from Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock where the infant — whose name was Alyas — was taken after first being seen by a local physician and then at the emergency room of Baxter Regional Medical Center.

According to a report from the medical team at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, Alyas had suffered serious abuse.

The hospital staff said the infant — who had been listed in critical condition while in the Little Rock pediatric hospital — had lost two pounds since his recent birth, suffered a fracture to the right clavicle, had sustained numerous bruises as well as bleeding and swelling of the brain, and the infant was also reported to suffer seizures.

In the opinion of the medical team treating the infant at ACH, there was no scenario in which a single drop or fall would have resulted in the extensive injuries he suffered.

According to court records, the parents provided nothing but vague guesses as to how the infant sustained the injuries, but the medical team in Little Rock suspected abuse. Jonathan Snow and Alyssia Kirby-Snow told investigators they were the only ones to have been alone with the child.

Currently, Jonathan Snow is an inmate at the Delta Regional Unit of the state prison system at   Dermott, and Alyssia Kirby-Snow is an inmate in the McPherson Unit at Newport.


Trial dates set in Leckie murder case

Jury trial dates have been set for 39-year-old Rebecca Ruud, of Theodosia, and 31-year-old Robert Peat, 31, of Zanoni, each charged with murder in the July death of Ruud’s teenage daughter, 16-year-old Savannah Leckie, in Ozark County.

Both are charged with first-degree murder, abuse or neglect of a child resulting in death, second-degree murder, tampering with physical evidence in a felony investigation and abandonment of a corpse. The two are suspected of killing Leckie and burning her body to cover up the crime.

The West Plains Daily Quill reports Ruud will go to trial August 27th before 31st Judicial Circuit Court Judge Calvin Ray Holden of Greene County, the location to be determined. A motion for a change of judge was approved in November. Jury selection is set to begin August 22nd and 23rd.

Peat’s trial is set for July 30th before Judge Holden, also on a change of judge approved in November, at a location to be determined. Jury selection is to begin July 25th and 26th.

Investigation into the incident began July 20th after Ruud reported Leckie missing via social media and later contacted law enforcement for help in the search.

On August 4th, officers executed a search warrant on Ruud’s property and cadaver dogs trained to detect human remains “alerted” on a burn pile about 1,200 feet from Ruud’s home.

Bone fragments and teeth were found in the ashes and later identified as human and determined by forensics experts as belonging to Leckie.

Other evidence items found by law enforcement in the home and near where the remains were found include a meat grinder, a knife, hair, girl’s clothing, fibrous materials, soil samples, and 26 bottles of lye, which can be used to accelerate the breakdown of bodily tissue.


Death of Searcy County woman reported as suicide now murder investigation

The shooting death of a Searcy County woman, 26-year-old Jessica Thornton of Marshall, first reported as a suicide Tuesday, is now the focus of a murder investigation and has led to an arrest.

Searcy County Sheriff Joey Pruitt says 30-year-old Matthew Armstrong of Marshall is being held on a first-degree murder charge, with bond set at $150,000.

The shooting incident off of Integrity Road was initially reported as a self-inflicted gunshot. After arriving on the scene, the Searcy County Sheriff’s Office requested assistance from the Arkansas State Police.

According to the affidavit for a search warrant, the initial call came from a man reporting the female had shot herself. Dispatch was unable to obtain an address for the incident due to poor reception.

Several more calls were received from the male, and dispatchers attempted numerous times to reestablish contact with the man in an effort to obtain more information and the location. After repeated efforts, dispatch was able to establish the caller was along Red Bluff Road.

The affidavit notes Armstrong was the caller and was present at the shooting. He is alleged to have left the scene, gone home and waited for law enforcement. Sheriff Pruitt went to Armstrong’s residence and made contact with him, while deputies were attempting to locate the female. Armstrong agreed to take Sheriff Pruitt to the scene.

Upon arrival, officers found a pistol owned by Thornton. She was found lying to the rear of a vehicle with a rifle under her body and the Glock pistol under her right hand. The gun’s magazine was on the ground. It appeared the victim sustained a gunshot to the head. Officers also observed a shell casing in close proximity to the body.

Officers also observed several other weapons in the vehicle and a spent casing inside the vehicle.

The search warrant was executed at the residence along Red Bluff Road for firearms, ammunition, casings or projectiles suspected to be evidence in the shooting, where it was believed potential evidence in the murder investigation was being concealed.


Third arrest made in murder case

Boone County Sheriff Sheriff Mike Moore announced Wednesday a third arrest has been made in connection with the murder of Jeremy Scroggins which occurred in June of 2016. Fourty-year-old Guillermo Martinez of Harrison was charged with aggravated robbery, the same offense that 26-year-old Morgan Michelle Vaughn was found guilty of in 2017 for her involvement with Scroggins’ death. The case, which already involved the arrest and conviction of the primary suspect involved with the murder, identified as 24-year-old Shay Butler, was continued based on the investigation. It was determined the motive behind the murder involved drugs and/or money that was owed to Martinez.

Martinez was in Boone County’s custody at the time the new arrest warrant was issued for a pending drug offense, unrelated to the investigation. The warrant issued by the court recommended a $100,000 bond in addition to the charges for which he is being held.

In October of 2016 Butler and Vaughan were taken into custody and faced charges related to Scroggins’ death. Shay was charged with with capital murder, aggravated robbery and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Vaughan faced charges of aggravated robbery. Online court records indicate Vaughan was given 13 years in prison and Shay received a 36 year prison sentence.

Scroggins was last seen in the area of Gipson and Rock Springs Road in Boone County by his parents on June 27, 2016. During questioning by investigators from the Boone County Sheriff’s Office and Arkansas State Police, Butler admitted shooting Scroggins and leaving his body in the area of Denning Cemetery where it was found. Butler told investigators he and Vaughan picked up Scroggins and drove to the rural location with the intent of robbing him. During the robbery Butler admitted shooting Scroggins twice in the head with a .22 caliber firearm.

Sheriff Moore says conversations on social media led to Butler and Vaughan being developed as suspects.

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