A Mountain Home man who picked up felony charges at a rapid clip in the spring and summer of 2018 appeared somewhat taken aback when he was jailed after pleading guilty to the charges against him.While 34-year-old Justin Hickman entered his guilty plea during a session of Baxter County Circuit Court Thursday, he is to be formally sentenced at a later date. The court ordered a pre-sentencing report to be completed by May 9th. It seemed Hickman was expecting to be released until the sentencing, but Circuit Judge John Putman had other ideas. The judge ordered Hickman locked up, and he was taken away by the court bailiff.
Hickman made a plea to Judge Putman to allow him to remain free until sentenced. He said he had a job, was working 50 hours a week, could live with his parents and was seeing a counselor about an alleged addiction problem. His record was clean until he began to pick up charges last year, apparently fueled by a drug addiction, the judge was told.
Judge Putman told Hickman he had just pled guilty to six felony charges and should be in jail.
Hickman had originally been scheduled for a bench trial Thursday, but entered the guilty plea instead.
The first arrest in Hickman’s string of cases came in late April last year when Baxter County Sheriff’s deputies responded to an address along Baer Street to investigate the report of a violent domestic altercation in progress.
When deputies arrived, Hickman and another man, 24-year-old Joseph Rowden, were about to leave the residence in a vehicle. The two men told deputies no domestic disturbance had taken place, and no one had called for law enforcement. Deputies reported they were unable to develop evidence that any sort of altercation had taken place.
The deputies did find drugs and drug paraphernalia in both the vehicle occupied by Rowden and Hickman and in the Baer Street residence. Hickman was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia.
The probable cause affidavit in the case provides no information as to who might have contacted the sheriff’s office to report the apparently nonexistent domestic altercation, or the motive behind the false report.
Rowden recently pled guilty to a number of charges filed against him, including drug-related violations stemming from the April 2018 incident and was sentenced to six years in prison, with four to serve and two suspended.
More charges were filed against Hickman in May last year.
The first charges were filed in mid-May after Hickman had been identified as a suspect in a residential burglary earlier in the month. Items taken included a television, computer and scuba diving gear valued at approximately $2,000. Hickman was alleged to have admitted to entering the residence and stealing the property. He was reported to have assisted officers in recovering the stolen items.
Hickman’s latest arrest came in September when he was charged with stealing a cellphone from the AT&T store in Mountain Home. Surveillance camera footage showed a male, later identified as Hickman, take a phone from a display table and place it behind his back. A female companion then took the purloined phone and slipped it in her purse.
According to the probable cause affidavit, after Hickman was identified as the person taking the phone, a Mountain Home Police officer went to his residence along Nevada Avenue and took Hickman into custody.
The female who had been with Hickman in the store was also at the residence. The officer told her he had seen video of the theft in progress, and if she still had the stolen pone, it would be in her best interest to produce it. The officer was told the phone was in the woman’s purse, and he retrieved it.
In doing so, the officer found a small bag containing a white crystal-like substance inside and a glass pipe with white residue. The woman said the drug-related items in her purse belonged to Hickman, and he confirmed his ownership.
Hickman was charged with stealing the phone and with possessing methamphetamine and paraphernalia used to ingest the drug.
The state dismissed one case where Hickman had been charged with possessing drug paraphernalia.
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