Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Crime and the County does not pay

a.) Why is the defendant in a drug rehab center when he is charged with attempted capital murder?

b.) Why does the State expect the County to foot the bill?

c.) Why don't they charge the defendant with the bill? Other than the not unreasonable assumption he can't?

County disputes $20,000 in bills
By Larry Stroud: Guard Associated Editor

ASH FLAT — Sharp County officials feel the county is being unfairly charged with medical and ambulance bills stemming from the accidental shooting of a man by a state trooper almost a year ago, County Judge Larry Brown said.

James Naldo Arnold, a former Sharp County resident who was a fugitive from Illinois at the time of the incident, was shot by Arkansas State Police Special Agent Wendall Jines as the two struggled while Jines was attempting to serve the Illinois warrant.

The incident occurred Feb. 9 near Highland, where Jines had received information that Arnold could be inside a mobile home on Game Reserve Road. While Jines was at the door talking with an occupant of the home, he heard a vehicle start behind it.

Moving in that direction, he saw a truck being driven by Arnold, identified himself as a police officer and ordered Arnold to stop. Arnold continued to drive toward Jines, who jumped out of the way and fired his service pistol three times in an attempt to stop the truck.

The shots deflated two tires on the truck.

As Arnold drove off, Jines followed in his patrol car until Arnold wrecked the truck on McCormick Road. Arnold then kicked out the driver’s door window of the truck and crawled out.
A struggle ensued, during which Jines’ pistol unintentionally discharged, wounding Arnold.
Arnold, then 38, was wanted by Iroquois County, Ill., authorities on drug charges and failure to appear, according to police reports.

After Arnold spent about three days in White River Medical Center, he was charged in Sharp County Circuit Court with attempted capital murder and felony fleeing. He was charged as a habitual offender, meaning that penalties, if he is convicted, will be enhanced.

The hospital bill totaled $18,692. Other bills include $1,003 owed to Spring River Ambulance Service and $599 to North Arkansas Radiology.

Sheriff Dale Weaver said the county’s role in the arrest was merely to send backup officers to the scene, and a county officer rode with Arnold to the hospital.
“I don’t blame the hospital for wanting their money,” he said.

However, he and Brown contend that either the state of Arkansas or state of Illinois should pay the bills.

Weaver said the Arkansas Claims Commission recently rejected the county’s request to have the state pay the bills. County Attorney Larry Kissee is looking into appealing that decision, or at least part of it, Weaver said.

Brown said the county will continue to appeal as far as possible, while also checking to see if Illinois would pay the bills, since the arrest stemmed from the Illinois warrant.

Arnold has a history of conflict with authorities in Sharp County. He led police on a Labor Day 2004 pursuit that resulted in three wrecked police cars. In that incident, Arnold was listed by authorities as a fugitive when an officer spotted him driving a Ford Mustang.

He led officers on a chase from Ash Flat to Cherokee Village, where a state trooper’s car was heavily damaged, a county police car totaled and another county car damaged when the vehicles hit a street that had been chipped and sealed, leaving loose gravels on top.

The Mustang was later found abandoned in Cherokee Village with undercarriage damage and flat tires. Arnold had escaped on foot.

He was captured asleep in a pickup in Ozark Acres a few days later and charged with felony fleeing in addition to felonies in connection with an alleged methamphetamine lab found at his residence.

He was also wanted on a warrant from Illinois when the 2004 pursuit occurred.

In early 2005, he was sentenced to four years in state prison. Court documents also show that he was sentenced to three years in prison in March of 1998 in regard to drug-related and aggravated assault charges.

Arnold is currently in a drug rehabilitation facility in Little Rock, Weaver said.