The Arkansas Supreme Court and the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals today left in place capital murder convictions in Arkansas.
The Arkansas Supreme Court affirmed the capital murder conviction of Tyler Barefield in Pope County for the September 2016 deaths of Aaron Brock and Beau Dewitt. Their bodies were found in a crushed vehicle in a salvage yard. Barefield, sentenced to life without parole, had argued exculpatory evidence had been improperly excluded and some other testimony shouldn’t have been allowed. The state’s theory was that Barefield, an owner of the salvage business, had tired of burglaries and hunted down those responsible. The dead men were shot.
The 8th Circuit upheld a district judge’s denial of a writ of habeas corpus for Timothy Kemp, sentenced to die for the killing of four people in 1993. Kemp has completed his normal appeals, but had sought relief for ineffective counsel. He argued there hadn’t been sufficient investigation related to his childhood abuse, fetal-alcohol exposure, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Kemp killed four people — David Wayne Helton, Robert “Sonny” Phegley, Cheryl Phegley and Richard “Bubba” Falls — in a rage during a night of drinking at one of the victim’s trailer in Jacksonville. The court said his attorney had made “reasonable” efforts to put mitigating evidence into the record.