Photo: Jeffery Scott Shepherd
A man charged with participating in the murder of then 20-year-old Tyler Pickett of Mountain Home in late June last year appeared in Baxter County Circuit Court Thursday.
Thirty-eight-year-old Jeffery Scott Shepherd, who lived in Salesville at the time of the crime, is charged with battery and first-degree murder.
He was transported from the Tucker Unit of the state prison system where he had been serving time on an earlier conviction to make his court appearance.
Shepherd’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Sam Pasthing, told the court, “We are not in a position to wrap this case up today.” He said he would continue working with prosecutors “to get a framework put together that will lead to a resolution.”
Pickett’s mother filed a report with the Mountain Home Police Department in September last year. She said she had not been in touch with her son for about five months.
As investigators worked the missing persons case, a tip came in that Pickett was not missing — but dead, and his body could be found in the Norfork area.
As the investigation heated up, more and more names began to surface, and Shepherd was developed as a suspect.
Another man, 27-year-old James Edward “Tyler” Davis of Norfork, was alleged to have been the person who actually shot Pickett.
On the day Pickett was killed, Shepherd was reported to have driven alone to a property located along Windswept Trail in the Norfork area.
Once there, he met Davis, the victim and a female who had all come in the female’s car.
When Davis was arrested and checked into a jail in Northwest Arkansas, he listed 22 Windswept Trail in Norfork as his address.
As soon as Pickett got out of the vehicle, Shepherd told investigators he hit him in the jaw with his fist, knocking him unconscious.
Shepherd was also said to have admitted kicking Pickett in the ribs, while he was on the ground.
The battery charge filed against Shepherd stemmed from his beating of the victim just before he was killed.
According to the probable cause affidavit, once Pickett had come to from the blow administered by Shepherd, he and Davis walked the victim to a rubbish pile on the property.
Shepherd was reported to have told investigators Davis brandished a .22-caliber rifle at Pickett and then shot him several times. Pickett’s body was left in the rubbish pile.
Davis put the rifle back in Shepherd’s pickup truck, and Shepherd left the area. Davis and the female were said to have departed later.
Investigators questioned the female “witness.” She alleged Davis had given her narcotics prior to Shepherd’s arrival, and she had passed out, leaving her with little or no recollection of what transpired just before and just after the shooting.
The woman said when she awoke, she did not see the victim, who had traveled with her and Davis to the site, where he was executed.
She asked Davis what had happened to Pickett, and he is alleged to have replied, “He’s dead, don’t worry about him. They will never find the body or the gun.”
No motive for the killing has been listed in court records filed in the case.
Davis is serving a prison sentence handed down in a Benton County drug case unrelated to the murder. He is being held in the Delta Regional Unit at Dermott.
Davis is now scheduled for a final hearing on Feb. 8 next year and a jury trial on Feb. 16.
While he was being held in the Baxter County jail in early February, Davis was reported to have tried unsuccessfully to hang himself with a blanket in the general population area of the detention center.
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