Judge denies lower bond for two of three defendants in Bowie County murder case

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Two men and a woman accused of murder in the shooting death of a 24-year-old Texarkana, Ark., man appeared before a judge in Bowie County Monday.

Lawyers for Brandon Eric Brown, 22, Marquell Deonte Smith, 21, and Shamari Newton, 25, recently filed motions asking 202nd District Judge Leon Pesek, Jr., to reduce the bails set for them in connection with the February death of Christopher Guilbeau. Brown’s bail was set at $750,000 while Marquell Smith’s and Newton’s were both set at $1 million.

Brown’s lawyer, Al Smith of Texarkana, and Marquell Smith’s lawyer, Chief Public Defender Rick Shumaker, each filed motions for reductions in bond amounts citing Texas law which provides that if more than 90 days pass between an arrest and an indictment, a defendant must be released. Brown, Newton and Marquell Smith were indicted Nov. 18.

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Brown and Marquell Smith were arrested in Tulsa, Okla., March 4. Brown was driving Guilbeau’s white 2008 Dodge pickup and Marquell Smith was riding as a passenger. The men were held in an Oklahoma jail until being returned to Texarkana July 30. Newton was arrested Sept. 14, in Tacoma, Wash., Cashatt said. Cashatt said Newton had left her phone number in Tacoma with police before leaving Texarkana.

Under questioning from First Assistant District Attorney Michael Shepherd, Texarkana, Texas police Detective Matt Cashatt said the investigation was delayed because investigators had to travel to Oklahoma to interview the male suspects and process Guilbeau’s truck. Cashatt said the investigation also required coordination with traffic division police in Dallas, where Brown and Marquell Smith reportedly went before driving to Tulsa. The multi-jurisdictional investigation “stretched resources,” Cashatt said.

Cashatt said investigators believe Guilbeau was shot in his truck before his body was left in an alley at West 11th and Della Streets in Texarkana, Texas near a duplex where Newton was living. Guilbeau’s body was discovered March 6, but Cashatt said he believes Guilbeau was probably killed “on or about” Feb. 23.

Cashatt said Marquell Smith has been convicted of assault on a public servant and has multiple juvenile arrests for misdemeanor family violence. Brown has a history of assault and theft, Cashatt said.

Al Smith and Shumaker argued that the law requires that Brown and Marquell Smith be released on personal recognizance bonds or that bail be set at an amount they can afford. Both men testified that they have no assets or savings and they qualified for court appointed attorneys.

Pesek refused to lower bail for Brown or Marquell Smith. Pesek said that while he takes the law seriously, he believes the investigation was impacted by the men’s travel to another state. Pesek did agree to reduce Newton’s bail to $400,000 but ordered her to remain in Bowie County if she makes bond.

Newton’s attorney, Gerald Smith of Arlington, Texas, argued that Newton has no criminal convictions and that she has fully cooperated with police. Gerald Smith called Wanda Akers, Newton’s grandmother, to testify. Akers, who raised Newton and continues to support her financially, said Newton receives disability and was living in Texarkana earlier this year to visit her father. Akers said there is “no way” she could make a $1 million bond.

At the end of the hearing, Newton broke down in tears as Pesek formally arraigned her on the murder charge. Brown and Marquell Smith were arraigned at hearings before Pesek last month. All three defendants have plead not guilty.

The defendants are scheduled to return to court in January for pretrial hearings.

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