A Texarkana man is standing trial for the second time in connection with a fatal 2015 shooting at a Texarkana, Ark., convenience store.
Marvin Arrell Stanton, 52, was found guilty of murder in 2016 by a Miller County jury and sentenced to life plus an additional 15 years for using a firearm. In 2017, the Arkansas Supreme Court reversed Stanton’s conviction and sent the case back to Miller County Circuit Judge Kirk Johnson for a new trial.
A jury of eight women and four men was selected Monday morning. Opening statements and testimony began Monday afternoon.
Prosecuting Attorrney Stephanie Barrett told the jury Stanton is a bully who used a deadly weapon when the much smaller man he picked on got the better of him in a fight. Little Rock defense attorney Patrick Benca told the jury Stanton acted in defense of himself and his friend, Emily Robinson.
Two women, Deshaun Holloway and Kadedra Ellis, neither of whom knew Stanton or Hamilton at the time of the shooting, testified Monday as to what they saw in the Raceway parking lot on the night of Sept. 25, 2015.
Holloway testified that she believes Stanton was the aggressor though Hamilton was clearly getting the upperhand as the two came to blows. Holloway said she did not hear what was said between the two men but witnessed the physical altercation and the shooting.
Under cross examination, Benca asked Holloway if she saw Stanton’s friend, Robinson, being “grabbed” by either of Hamilton’s two friends, Sanmarcos Jacobs and Lavon Strong. Holloway said Robinson was “held back” from intervening in the fight.
Ellis said that when her gaze happened upon Hamilton and Stanton, they were already fighting.
“The white guy was winning but both were swinging,” Ellis said. “She (Robinson) was trying to break it up. She was trying to pull them apart but falling is what really broke it up.”
Ellis said the men were standing five to six feet apart when the shot was fired and Hamilton fell to the ground. Body camera video recorded Ellis telling a police officer that a woman had broken up the fight when Stanton pulled out his gun and fired.
The final witness to testify Monday was Lavon Strong, a friend of Hamilton’s who was with him at the time of the shooting. Strong said he, Hamilton and Sanmarcos Jacobs stopped at the Raceway and parked along a curb near some gas pumps. Strong said the men were getting back into Hamilton’s truck and preparing to leave as four motorcycles pulled into the parking lot.
Strong testified that three of the cyclists parked near the store entrance but a fourth pulled up near Hamilton’s truck. Strong said a large man on the white motorcycle began shouting at them to move the f-ing truck. Strong said Hamilton got out of the truck to talk to talk to the man.
Strong said Stanton ordered them to move the truck and said, “or we are going to have some problems.”
Strong said Hamilton was trying to diffuse the situation when Stanton lifted his shirt to show he was carrying a firearm. Strong said he told Hamilton they should just leave but Hamilton continued trying to talk to Stanton. Strong testified that a fight began after Stanton shoved Hamilton into the side of his truck.
Strong said that at some point, Robinson began pulling on Hamilton’s shirt and that both men fell to the ground. Strong said it appeared the fight had ended when Stanton shot Hamilton in the belly. Hamilton died a short time later.
Strong said he asked a police officer if there was video surveillance because, “I wanted him to see what happened. I wanted him to see the problem came straight to us.”
Under cross examination by Benca, Strong denied that he and Hamilton were looking for trouble. Benca, apparently referring to a conversation he had with Strong before trial, asked Strong if he remembered their discussion. Benca produced a transcript which led Barrett to object. Circuit Judge Kirk Johnson dismissed the jury for the evening before discussing the matter.
Black argued that the transcript is not official, cannot be authenticated and that it was not provided to the state in the pretrial discovery process. Benca argued that he didn’t have to provide the transcript because he was only using it to refresh Strong’s memory and did not intend to introduce it. Johnson instructed both sides to research the issue and discuss Tuesday morning.
If convicted of murder, Stanton faces 10 to 40 years or life.