Arkansas welcome center vandal to pay restitution

Dustin Otwell
Dustin Otwell

A Magnolia, Ark., man who caused more than $1,000 in damages April 30 to a new visitor’s center on Highway 71 must pay restitution to the department of transportation as a condition of his five-year probation.

Dustin Wade Otwell, 37, entered a guilty plea to felony criminal mischief Tuesday afternoon at a hearing before Circuit Judge Carlton Jones in Miller County where Otwell was represented by Texarkana attorney Josh Potter. Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Chuck Black told Jones the plea arrangement includes restitution, court costs, fees and a $2,500 fine.

Otwell must also participate in drug treatment at the direction of the probation department. Otwell was under the influence of drugs in the early morning hours of April 30 when he caused damage to landscaping, plumbing, sewer and electronics at the Arkansas Welcome Center on Highway 71.

After receiving the report, Miller County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Sam McJunkins began a review of surveillance video which led to the identification of a red Chevrolet pickup as being involved in the vandalism. The truck’s license plate number was not visible in the video so McJunkins enlisted the help of fellow officers by sending out an agency-wide inquiry. Cpl. Phillip Hardemon and Deputy Byron Bryant had recently encountered the pickup and were able to provide the license plate number to McJunkins.

That information allowed for Otwell’s identification and arrest in May. Otwell had been free on a $25,000 bond. Should Otwell violate the terms of his probation, he could be ordered to serve up to six years in prison.

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