Woman can’t be not guilty and guilty at same time, judge says

Photo: Tina Faye Hollis

A Mountain Home woman tried to plead guilty while saying she was not guilty during a session of Baxter County Circuit Court Thursday. But a judge told her, one way or the other, she was committing perjury by making both claims simultaneously.

Thirty-eight-year-old Tina Faye Hollis is charged, along with a male codefendant, with stealing items from boat docks in the Pigeon Creek arm of Lake Norfork.

Hollis began the process of accepting her plea agreement by admitting her guilt and referring to Circuit Judge John Putman as "your majesty." She then told the court she was not guilty, but wanted to accept the agreement anyway. She said she wanted to accept the plea so she could reclaim her mother's ashes that were in a truck seized by law enforcement. Judge Putman agreed the ashes should be treated with respect and returned to Hollis no matter what eventually happened to the vehicle.

As to the guilty-but-innocent-stance, Judge Putman said Hollis could not have it both ways. He told her "either you committed perjury by lying about your guilt, or you lied when you said you were not guilty." The judge said the conflicting statements could not both be true.

After Hollis had given several rambling and somewhat confusing statements about how stolen items had gotten into the truck she was driving, Judge Putman refused to continue taking with the plea. "I need a break from this," Putman said. Hollis is now due back in court in October.

The incident involving Hollis and a male co-defendant began when a witness reported he had been fishing in the area where the boat docks were located in the early morning hours of May 24 and saw a male and female in an older model pickup truck in the area. He said there were items in the bed of the truck partially covered with a tarp.

The witness said he had talked with the couple at one point because they were having issues with their vehicle and needed a jump-start. He told investigators he had seen a blue and white ski tube in the truck he believed belonged to a friend of his who owned the dock.

The dock owner had been advised of the early morning encounter with the couple by his friend, and he called the sheriff's office later in the day, when he saw a truck matching the description he had been given drive past his house heading toward the dock.

Responding deputies first made contact with Hollis. They reported seeing items in the truck appearing as if they could have come from a boat dock -- including a ski rope, a portable toilet, gas camp grill, vehicle batteries, fishing equipment and a knee board.

The license on the truck Hollis was driving was actually supposed to be on another vehicle, deputies said. Hollis could provide no paperwork to establish her ownership of the truck, and there was a screwdriver in the ignition instead of a key.

The responding deputies called for investigators to come to the scene.

Hollis was reported to have been unable to provide a believable story as to how the various items wound up in the truck.

The original caller was provided photographs of Hollis and a male who was found hiding in an inflatable rubber canoe near the dock -- identified as 23-year-old Brandon Brown of Mountain Home. The man identified the pair as the people he had seen early that morning, and the dock owner identified property in the truck as belonging to him. The owner of a nearby dock also identified items of his property found in the truck.



Photo: Brandon Brown

Both Hollis and Brown were arrested. Investigators said the pair was interviewed separately and gave different stories regarding elements of the alleged crime, including how the stolen items wound up in the truck.

Brown has entered a not guilty plea to the charges against him.

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