Charges filed against suspect in officer shooting, manhunt 08/04/23
DE QUEEN – Prosecutors filed numerous charges this week against a Southwest Arkansas man who shot and wounded a De Queen police officer while leading law enforcement through a multi-county pursuit last month.
According to records in the Sevier County Circuit Court, Kenneth Lee Smith, 37, is facing multiple felony counts following the shooting, pursuit and subsequent manhunt on July 8. Sevier County Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Erin Hunter said charges against Smith are likely to include aggravated residential burglary as well as four counts of attempted murder for the initial incident that day within a home on 113 Sweet Home Lane near De Queen.
Prosecutors also plan to file a charge of attempted capital murder for the shooting of De Queen Police Department Lt. Chad Bradshaw during the pursuit on July 8. Bradshaw was shot in his right shoulder, but continued pursuing Smith before retiring to seek medical treatment. He was released later that day to recover at his home.
Other charges filed against Smith include first degree battery on a law enforcement officer. Upon a conviction, the range of offenses could see Smith serving up to 40 years or life imprisonment.
Court records indicate that bond was not set for Smith during his court appearance this week. He has an additional hearing scheduled for Aug. 10.
The incident began following a report of a domestic disturbance at 113 Sweet Home Lane in De Queen. Upon arrival, the responding officer, Chris Turner of the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office, was met with gunfire and his patrol unit was hit with multiple rounds. Smith then reportedly fled the scene on a motorcycle, leading to the subsequent pursuit.
Smith was later located in Little River County with the assistance of dog and horse teams, as well as drones and an Arkansas State Police helicopter. The manhunt lasted several hours before Smith was apprehended without further incident.
Howard County leaders meet with state, federal officials regarding Husqvarna closure 08/03/23
NASHVILLE – Community leaders in Howard County met with members of Arkansas U.S. Congressional delegation to discuss Husqvarna’s recent announcement that the company would close its production facility in Nashville and eliminate approximately 700 local jobs.
Nashville Mayor Larry Dunaway and Howard County Judge Brent Pinkerton held the meeting with U.S. Congressman Bruce Westerman, as well as members of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, the Nashville Chamber of Commerce, State Representative Danny Watson, State Senator Jimmy Hickey as well as staff from the offices of U.S. Senators Tom Cotton and John Boozman.
Dunaway informed the group of the local economic development committee and its plans to move forward following the closure announcement.
Husqvarna announced last month that the company will be closing its production facility in Nashville by the end of 2024. According to a news release issued by Husqvarna, the producer of chainsaws and other handheld tools said it plans to consolidate operations in Nashville with facilities in South Carolina, China and Brazil over the next 18 months.
Gary Dan Futrell, owner of the York Gary Autoplex in Nashville, said the community is in need of reassurance and that the visiting Congressional delegation was a sign that the closure is receiving attention at the state and federal level.
Congressman Westerman shared a few thoughts regarding Husqvarna’s decision and said Howard County’s resiliency will help see the community through this setback.
“I’ve seen enough Nashville Scrappers football games to know the heart and soul and work ethic of this community,” said Westerman. “This is a devastating blow but also know that there’s brighter days down the road. That was echoed in our meeting today. Not just the labor force and work ethic here, but the facility that Husqvarna is leaving I think will be very attractive to companies across the country looking for a place they can rapidly move into. I’m excited to see what the future holds. Everywhere I travel I hear about the lack of a quality workforce. That’s not a problem here.”
The economic impact of Husqvarna’s departure is going to center on Nashville but spread across the entire region. The facility supports hundreds of workers but also a range of auxiliary companies that support Husqvarna’s operations in Nashville. Many of those workers travel from De Queen and other adjacent areas to Nashville each day.
Dunaway said his thoughts and those of other local and state government and economic leaders are with the affected workers. During a meeting with state economic officials in Little Rock the morning after the announcement, Dunaway said the emphasis was on how to support those workers slated to lose their jobs next year.
“We met with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and the plant manager from Husqvarna plant here in town,” said Dunaway. “We got a lot of good feedback. Right now the focus is going to be on those displaced workers. There’s a plan that’s going to be put into motion to bring job fairs in Nashville and talk to these workers to help them and try to help them find jobs so they won’t be unemployed for very long.”
The loss of a critical industry is always a significant blow, but especially for a small town like Nashville. However, Dunaway said he’s certain his community will weather the storm and that Husqvarna’s departure will open the door for another industry in the near future.
“Since the announcement came out, I’ve gotten so many calls from people here in town and across the area encouraging me, providing ideas and offering their help to help those workers who are losing their jobs and how to try and recruit a new business,” said Dunaway. “Something like these brings people together. Already the town has come together, we’re going to get through this and get another business in here. We have a working facility another company could move in to and get right to work. The city is willing to help however it can to help make that happen.”
In a statement, Arkansas Commerce Secretary Hugh McDonald said his department will work with local officials to reduce the impact of Husqvarna’s decision to pull out of Nashville.
“The Arkansas Department of Commerce is committed to working with Husqvarna and community leaders to minimize the effects of this unfortunate decision to discontinue operations in Nashville,” said McDonald. “The Department of Commerce, including the Arkansas Division of Workforce Services, will be mobilizing to assist workers who are affected and offering resources and job training to get them back in the workforce. Nashville, Arkansas has all the components companies are looking for: available real estate, an experienced workforce, and a favorable business climate. We recognize the significant impact this decision will have on the lives of these employees and their families and helping them will be our top priority.”
Most Arkansas students return to class Aug. 14 08/03/23
The summer is almost officially over for most students across Arkansas. That’s right, school will be back in session for students at many school districts in the state starting Aug. 14 – just a week and a few days away. Locally that includes De Queen, Horatio, Foreman, Ashdown and Horatio. Cossatot River students get an extra day off with their four-day schedule and won’t return until Aug. 15. And while the summer heat is very much still with us, this date marks the end of summer vacation for those students and time to get back at it.
With the start school comes the start of heavier morning and afternoon traffic. Educators and local law enforcement ask everyone to begin thinking about taking extra caution while commuting once school starts, especially in the morning and afternoon. The roads will see a lot more traffic and there’ll be lots of kids traveling to and from school on foot. And remember, school speed zones will be back in effect so keep an eye out and slow down when nearing a school zone. Cell phone use is also restricted within school zones and texting while driving is always illegal in Arkansas.
Two area students offered fellowship through UofA Honors College 08/01/23
FAYETTEVILLE – The U of A Honors College has selected several students from the area to receive Honors College Fellowships.
Local students receiving the prestigious recognition include Jenna Bray of Dierks and MacKay Smith of Umpire. Both are graduates of Dierks High School.
The fellowships, which award up to $80,000, largely cover tuition, fees, books, room and board, and other academic expenses over four years, providing these students the freedom to pursue original research, study abroad, service learning and other academic interests.
As new fellows, Jenna Bray and MacKay Smith boasted an average grade point average of 4.25 and an average composite ACT score of 33.9. A total of 79 fellows were selected for 2023.
The members of this distinguished class plan to study a diverse range of subjects, from biology and chemical engineering to anthropology, data science and architecture.
The Honors College Fellowships were made possible by a portion of the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation’s $300 million gift to the university in 2002.
Ashdown man facing felony after 5th DWI arrest 08/01/23
ASHDOWN – Prosecutors are filing a felony DWI charge against an Ashdown man after he was arrested for a fifth offense in July.
According to records filed in the Little River Circuit Court last week, 55-year-old John Daniels of Ashdown has been formally charged with Driving While Intoxicated, 5th Offense. In Arkansas, four or more DWI violations within a 10 year period are upgraded to felony offenses.
Daniels was also charged with ignition interlock requirements for allegedly failing to maintain a breathalyzer unit in his vehicle, as well as driving on a suspended license – both misdemeanor offenses.
According to the arrest affidavit, Daniels was pulled over on July 14 after an Ashdown police officer alleged Daniels had failed to dim his vehicle’s bright lights. During the traffic stop, the officer reported finding an open container of alcohol in the vehicle and claimed he could smell alcohol inside. In addition, Daniels’ drivers license was suspended due to a previous DWI conviction in 2019.
Daniels was also convicted of DWI twice in 2016 and once in 2017.
If convicted of a fifth DWI, the felony offense could carry a sentence of two to 10 years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections.
State’s 10-year-old highway sales tax has paid for dozens of projects 08/01/23
The Arkansas Highway has held four events around the state to commemorate the 31 projects paid for with a half-cent sales tax approved by voters 10 years ago.
In 2012 Arkansas voters approved the sales tax increase and since then it has generated about $1.8 billion in revenue, which has paid for improvements to about 200 miles of highway.
The projects are collectively called the Connecting Arkansas Program, or CAP, and they represent one of the largest highway programs in the history of the state.
In 2011 the legislature voted to place the sales tax measure on the 2012 ballot, and it was approved in a statewide election by 58 percent of Arkansas voters.
In 2019 the legislature referred to the ballot a proposal to make the half-cent for highways permanent. It had been scheduled to expire in 2023, after being in effect for 10 years. In 2020 Arkansas voters approved the proposal, with 55 percent of voters in favor of making the half-cent sales tax permanent.
Approval of a sales tax as a funding source for highway programs was an important milestone. Historically, the major source of revenue for road improvements had been the motor fuels tax, which is paid by motorists at the gas pump.
The state motor fuels tax on gasoline is 24.5 cents per gallon, and for diesel it’s 28.5 cents a gallon.
With motor fuels taxes as the foundation of highway funding, the problem for highway officials is that revenue has been steadily declining even as costs of construction goes up. For one thing, cars and trucks are much more fuel efficient nowadays.
Typically, to build a new interstate costs $9.4 million to $14 million per mile. A rural two-line highway costs $4 million a mile.
For example, 30 years ago a typical sedan used 30 gallons to drive 400 miles, and today a sedan is capable of going 400 miles on just 15 gallons. In other words, that typical family sedan now pays half in motor fuels taxes what it did 30 years ago.
Sales tax revenue increases with inflation. If the price of a candy bar goes from one dollar to two dollars, the sales tax collected by the state is doubled. However, even when inflation raises the price of a tank of gas, the state Transportation Department does not collect more in motor fuels taxes.
It doesn’t matter if it costs $3 a gallon or $4 a gallon, if you buy 10 gallons of gas the state will collect 24.5 cents a gallon, or $2.45 for each 10 gallons of gasoline you buy.
The federal government also collects a motor fuels tax, in addition to the state taxes. They are 15.44 cents a gallon for gas and 21.44 cents per gallon of diesel. Arkansas has been getting on average about $780 million a year in federal highway grants.
Arkansas has 16,454 miles of state highway, built and maintained by the state Transportation Department. We are the 12th largest state highway system in the country. Also, there are 65,553 miles of county roads and 17,240 miles of city streets in Arkansas.
The state maintains 7,356 bridges. Counties maintain 4,267 bridges and cities maintain 1,096 bridges.
Aug. 29 trial date set for Dierks woman accused of $52k Booster Club theft 07/31/23
DIERKS – A pre-trial hearing is scheduled next week for the former bookkeeper of the Dierks Booster Club accused of stealing over $52,000 from the organization.
According to records with the Howard County Circuit Court, 39-year-old Kacie Nicole Quinn of Dierks is set to appear for the hearing on Aug. 9. If she maintains her plea of not guilty, a jury trial is currently scheduled for Aug. 29.
Quinn has been charged with a single count of theft of property in addition to two counts of fraudulent use of a credit/debit card.
Quinn is accused of stealing more than $52,000 over the course of a year from the Dierks Booster Club.
An investigation by the Dierks Police Department earlier this year determined funds were missing from the Dierks Booster Club. The Arkansas State Police was then called in to assist in the investigation. Authorities eventually tied the missing funds to Quinn, who is alleged to have transferred them to her personal account. Items purchased with the funds allegedly include beer, a personal massager and baby clothes.
All in all, the stolen funds amounted to around $52,000. Quinn is alleged to have stolen the funds between the summer of 2022 until the investigation earlier this year. The stolen funds were initially raised by the Dierks Booster Club through various fundraising efforts.
Making history: Cossatot River JV football program launches this fall 07/31/23
WICKES – It’s been a busy summer for the Cossatot River Eagles as they prepare to launch their inaugural junior varsity football program this fall.
Under Head Football Coach Dakota Barrett, the team has been practicing for weeks to build the program from the ground level ahead of the Eagle’s first game against Centerpoint on Sept. 5.
Cossatot River School District announced last year it would launch its first-ever football program. The program is starting this upcoming school year at the junior high for seventh through ninth grade. The district hopes to organize a high school team in the future once the new program gets a few years at the junior varsity level.
Barrett said his boys are shaping up and ready to compete this fall.
“We’ve attended a team camp this summer, going on workouts for a month and a half,” said Barrett. “We’re like everybody else. August is here, it’s national football days. To be honest with you, it’s all clicking here and we’re hoping to put on a good season.
It’s not everyday an Arkansas coach is tasked with creating an athletic program from scratch – let alone one as involved as football. While the experience hasn’t been short on challenges, Barrett said he’s proud of how the program has come together over the summer.
“It’s been an experience of a lifetime, good and bad,” said Barrett, laughing. “It’s been stressful at times for all of us, but also so rewarding. We started with absolutely nothing but to get to see these kids come out here with zero knowledge, see them learn the game and come to love it the way we who played football loved it, well that’s what it’s all about.”
Barrett said one player who’s really taken to the new program is the Eagle’s first-ever quarterback, Noah Brandon.
“He stepped in at the starting spot over the summer, took hold of it and never looked back,” said Barrett.
Brandon said he’s ready to get out on the field this fall and help lead the Eagles for their first season. He played football at his old school but said this is his first chance to play on a real team.
“I’m pretty stoked for it,” said Brandon. “I like being on the first team, the whole team is liking the opportunity to be the first. I used to play a little football but never on a team.”
The team’s star running back, Skylar Velez, looks forward to the opportunities the new program will provide its players.
“I really think this could open up some opportunities for me, for everyone on the team,” said Velez.
One fact Barrett is focusing on this year is the history his team is making for Cossatot River School District. He said the Eagles are creating a legacy future teams can build on for years to come.
“This is a unique opportunity for us, for these kids,” said Barrett. “Not many people get the opportunity to say they started a sports program, especially not football. That’s what we keep pounding in these kids’ heads: history, well, they’re writing it right now for Cossatot River School District and that’s something pretty special.”
It’s an effort, said Barrett, that’s going to make a big impact for the school district and the students who participate in the program – and an effort the entire Cossatot River community can be proud of.
“We want to end up with a rich football program here in Southern Polk County, a program like Mena and De Queen has,” said Barrett. “We’re not just suiting out a team, we want to win and build a legacy and we want to start this year. We’re just ready to go.”
Eagles fans are invited to see a full schedule of this fall’s season, as well as other updates from the program, by checking out Cossatot River Eagles Football on Facebook.
Sevier County Chamber announces 2023 Christmas Parade theme: A Classic Christmas 07/31/23
DE QUEEN – The KDQN Studios received a special visitor on Friday to remind our listeners that the most wonderful time of year isn’t all that far away.
The big, red, jolly man himself took a break from his summer vacation – but still rocking his cabana wear – to join Sevier County Executive Director Suzanne Babb in announcing this year’s Christmas Parade theme: a Classic Christmas.
“It’s going to be about getting back to the basics, what you remember as a child growing up and seeing what’s under the Christmas tree Christmas morning and know Santa left you something there,” said Santa. “Me and Mrs. Claus have been enjoying the time off but it’s getting to be that time where we all have to get back to work, check out lists, check them twice and bring that joy and spirit to all the children in the world.”
Santa appreciates his volunteers each year, and Babb said the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce is also thankful for theirs in decorating, organizing and helping out with the local parades and other activities during Christmas.
“Santa has his volunteers and elves in the workshop that help out, but we at the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce also need our volunteers and help put on Christmas for the whole county,” said Babb. “If you want to help in any way, by putting up decorations, being in the parade, being a vendor at the parade, contact the chamber because we would love to have you.”
The Sevier County Chamber of Commerce will present the 2023 De Queen Christmas Parade the evening of the first Saturday in December. Horatio and Lockesburg have traditionally held their Christmas parades earlier the same day.
If you missed Santa’s trip to De Queen on Friday, no worries – he plans as always to set up at the Santa House in the days and weeks before Christmas to get in those last minute wish lists. He’ll also make an appearance at the parades.
Babb said the chamber hopes the early announcement of this year’s Christmas Parade theme – again, a Classic Christmas – will give participants more time to come up with great ideas and encourage more folks to join in the activities.
For more information on the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce, call (870) 584-3225 or stop by the chamber office on Stilwell Avenue around the courthouse square in downtown De Queen.
Extreme heat forces end to Monday markets at Sevier County Farmers Market 07/31/23
DE QUEEN – Due to extreme heat expected this week and in the weeks ahead, the Sevier County Farmer’s Market announced it is canceling its Monday afternoon market days.
In a statement on its Facebook page, the farmers market said the high afternoon temperatures are forcing it to end its Monday markets “to keep everyone’s best interests at heart.”
However, the Sevier County Farmers Market remains open Wednesdays and Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 12 noon, or until sold out. The final day of the market season will be Oct. 28.
DHS educator named top four finalist for Arkansas Teacher of the Year 07/28/23
LITTLE ROCK – On Thursday the Arkansas Department of Education announced the selection of four educators as its 2024 Arkansas Teacher of the Year Semi-Finalists, including a popular and influential teacher from De Queen High School.
DQTV Teacher and District Communications Director Beau McCastlain was recognized as one of those four finalists during a ceremony in Little Rock. McCastlain, who has also coached for De Queen Public Schools, launched DQTV three years ago to provide De Queen High School students with opportunities to learn more about careers in media.
McCastlain was announced as one of 14 regional finalists earlier this month. The regional finalists each received a certificate and a $1,000 prize provided by the Walton Family Foundation. The event at the Governor’s Mansion in Little Rock yesterday included a brunch, a ceremony honoring the 14 finalists and the announcement of the four 2024 Arkansas Teacher of the Year Semi-Finalists, including McCastlain. One will be named the 2024 Arkansas Teacher of the Year this fall.
“Congratulations to these teachers for achieving this honor,” ADE Secretary Jacob Oliva said. “We are proud to recognize excellence in teaching and honor those selected for this recognition.”
The Arkansas Teacher of the Year program participates in the National Teacher of the Year program and recognizes teachers for their outstanding teaching and leadership skills. To learn more about the program, visit https://bit.ly/3hJwC0g.
Chris Crawford of Polk County named AGFC Game Warden of the Year 07/28/23
Submitted by AGFC
LITTLE ROCK – As Major Brian Aston of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission read off a three-minute list of some of the more amazing accomplishments of the officer he would announce Tuesday as the 2023 Sgt. Monty Carmikle Arkansas Game Warden of the Year, it struck some people in the audience that it was a wonder the winner would have time to attend the presentation, much less have much time away from his work.
The list ranged from saving a gunshot victim to helping pepper-sprayed high school students to rescuing a lost hunter, finding a missing 11-year-old girl, locating three individuals lost after a UTV accident and later providing aid to two more injured ATV riders in the same area. There were the two people he rescued from a camper fire, or the armed and dangerous felon he captured. He helped a group of officers and sheriff’s deputies clear students from 100 rooms at the University of Arkansas at Rich Mountain Community College following a bomb threat, and investigated numerous boating and hunting accidents. He had 66 interactions with regulations violators, and found time to file 40 incident reports. Through all that, he had the gruesome task of helping recover six boating accident victims.
And still, Chris Crawford finds much of the job he does “fun.”
“Absolutely. Absolutely,” the 17-year veteran of the Marine Corps who joined the AGFC in March of 2018 said Tuesday at the National Guard Armory at Camp Robinson. “I love the public. I love my job. You get to travel. In this job, you get to see aspects of law enforcement and deal with people that a lot of officers don’t get to, whether it’s on the waterways, the lakes, the rivers, or out in the woods. Yeah, sure, we assist with some of the bad calls and the domestics and this and that, but being a part of the day-to-day life of the men and women out there just having fun in the woods and waterways, it’s a blast.”
Crawford, as Aston noted, also has participated during the past year in 12 public relations events, dedicating over 60 hours to these functions, and in the process reaching more than 60,000 people across the state.
Along with his plaque as Game Warden of the Year, and receiving a pin from last year’s honoree, Kurt VanMatre, Crawford received a Luminox Navy Seal watch as a gift from AGFC commissioners and specifically Bill Jones, who donated the timepiece from Sissy’s Log Cabin jewelers and plans to make the award an every-year honor.
Crawford also received an AGFC Lifesaving Medal, in which he saved a hunter who had been gored in his calf by a feral hog and was close to bleeding to death. Eight wardens were honored with certificates of commendation, while three others received a Warden’s Star and Lifesaving Medal. Cpl. Bradley Huggins, Cpl. Tyler Webb and Game Warden First Class Channing Sanders were instrumental in the rescue of a lost camper in the Winona WMA area when temperature had fallen to near freezing. They were honored with both the Warden’s Star and a Lifesaving Medal.
Crawford said, “Game and Fish is a wonderful agency, and I love my job. We always try to find that (balance) … I’ve been very blessed and I love the county I’m in. I’m home.” After leaving the Marine Corps, Crawford worked for one year in Bradley County and Warren before relocating to his hometown.
The one year of his achievements that Aston listed before the presentation seems like it could have filled all five-plus years at the AGFC.
“There’s been, Lord, I’m trying to remember all of them … I told them I’d rather chase a guy with a gun than the bomb threat at the college where me and several officers, deputies, cleared hundreds of rooms at the college evacuating it. So that was a long day. There’s been several boating accidents and hunting accidents,” he said. Winning Game Warden of the Year left him “absolutely floored right now, I’m not going to lie. My knees got a little weak when they said (his name) because I couldn’t believe I would get this. It’s an honor. When you go through the (AGFC Enforcement) academy and you see the list of previous award winners and things that they had accomplished, and to have your name put up next to theirs, it’s touching.”
Major access expansion complete at Millwood Lake 07/26/23
The cooperative effort by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Little River County and the Army Corps of Engineers, involved an expansion and repaving of the parking area at this popular boating access. The new parking area is nearly 164,000 square feet and cost roughly $711,000, including site work, drainage and construction.
According to Dylan Hann, Fisheries Supervisor at the AGFC’s Hope Regional Office, the project included about $275,000 in Marine Fuel Tax money and the remainder came from capital improvement funds at the AGFC.
The Marine Fuel Tax Program was created in 1970 in cooperation with ArDOT and AGFC to collect a portion of taxes on gasoline purchases devoted to boats and devote those funds toward public access on Arkansas’s waterways. More than $65 million from this program has been used to develop access to angling and boating opportunities throughout Arkansas since its inception. Thanks to a modernization of the program completed in 2022 by AGFC and ArDOT, the program has been able to provide additional benefits to Arkansans, such as this much needed improvement to one of Arknasas’s best fishing destinations.
The parking area now accommodates 138 vehicles with trailers, plus an additional 11 vehicles without trailers to provide bank anglers as well as anglers who are meeting their fishing partner at the ramp.
“The best part is that the new parking area doesn’t take up much more room than the original footprint of the access point,” Hann said. “It was a much needed improvement that many anglers will appreciate.”
Hann says details about the second phase of the renovation are being worked out but he hopes that portion of the project will begin within the next few months.
“Phase two includes a large courtesy dock to aid with launching and loading boats and a lighting system to offer added security and safety for anglers using the facility at night and during low-light hours,” Hann said. “We are very excited about this opportunity to invest in our southwest Arkansas communities, and hope there are even greater things to come to Millwood Lake in the future.”
Highway 71 remains open after train derailment in Ashdown Tuesday night 07/26/23
ASHDOWN – Highway 71 is open to traffic in Ashdown after a KCS train derailed within the city limits near Domtar.
The derailment occurred Tuesday evening on the tracks parallel with Highway 71 through Ashdown. Photos of the derailment shared online show around 10-12 cars were thrown from the tracks during the incident.
Authorities say the derailment was contained to the ditch along the tracks and did not spill over to the adjacent highway. Photos show large amounts of coal spilled from some of the damaged cars during the derailment.
Authorities said no injuries were reported and that the derailment is currently under investigation by Kansas City Southern.
This is a developing story and more details will be shared as they become available.
Trial continued for former HHS admin in sexual assault case 07/26/23
HORATIO – The trial date for a former Horatio High School administrator charged last year for allegedly maintaining a sexual relationship with a student has been postponed until September.
Labrada Vann, 41, was scheduled for a jury trial to begin today in the Sevier County Circuit Court. However, the court granted a motion by Vann’s attorneys for a continuance after prosecutors announced additional testimony would be presented in the trial. Her defense argued that the disclosure of a significant witness “so late in the process and so close to trial is a violation” of court statutes and “significantly impairs [the] defendent’s right to a fair trial and due process.”
A trial was previously continued following a motion by her defense attorney– including on one occasion to allow the state to perform a mental evaluation on Vann.
Vann is facing a single felony count of first degree sexual assault. According to the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office, investigators were contacted by the Arkansas Crimes Against Children Hotline in April of last year in reference to a possible inappropriate relationship between Vann and a student. The sheriff’s office began an investigation into the allegations and Vann was arrested later that month.
During the time of the alleged incident Vann served as the vice-principal for Horatio High School. She has maintained a plea of not guilty to the charge since her arrest.
Vann posted a $100,000 bond following her arraignment later that month.
Upon a conviction, the charge of first degree sexual assault carries a prison sentence of six to 30 years.