Miller County jury sentences Florida man to 30 years for brandishing pistol at Texarkana truck stop

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A Florida truck driver received a 30-year sentence from a Miller County jury Thursday for brandishing a .357 magnum pistol during an argument over a football game at the Flying J truck stop in 2014.

Curtis Colston, 50, testified that he just wanted to scare a large man in the trucker’s lounge who he thought meant to beat him up over his comments during a football game Sept. 20, 2014, when questioned by his lawyer, Jeff Harrelson of Texarkana, during the one-day trial’s punishment phase. Witnesses told police Colston was trying to pick a fight with everyone in the room despite there being children present.

When Colston pulled a .357 from his pocket and removed his shirt, two patrons swooped into action. One grabbed Colston from behind and placed him in a choke hold, causing him to drop the pistol. The other popped Colston with a fist to the face, leading Colston to head out the door for his parked rig.

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Texarkana, Ark., police didn’t have much trouble identifying Colston as the suspect when they arrived a short time later. Witnesses described a shirtless man with salt and pepper hair and a fat lip. Colston fit the description to the letter.

When officers ran Colston through a national database, they learned he is a previously convicted felon for whom possessing a firearm is a crime in and of itself. Colston attempted to explain his 24 prior felonies as the result of a past drug problem during his testimony Thursday afternoon.

“Back in the day? The last one was in 2009,” Prosecuting Attorney Stephanie Black argued in closing remarks.

Black listed Colston’s prior record for the jury. Colston has 24 convictions for burglary, auto theft, and dealing in stolen property. The myriad probations Colston received in Florida were ultimately revoked, Black said.

During her cross examination of Colston, Black asked if he had ever been charged before with a crime of violence. Colston replied that he has been accused of assaulting others twice, once with a BB gun and once with a baseball bat.

“But I was acquitted on both of those,” Colston said.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Connie Mitchell asked the jury to seize the opportunity before them.

“Mr. Colston called himself a peaceful guy. I don’t know many peaceful guys who try to settle a dispute over a football game with a .357 magnum,” Mitchell argued. “He’s not in Florida anymore, he’s in Arkansas, and we don’t act like that in Arkansas.”

The jury sentenced Colston to 30 years for being a felon in possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony, habitual offender, and 15 years for aggravated assault, habitual offender. Miller County Circuit Judge Kirk Johnson ordered the terms to run at the same time. Colston will be eligible for parole after he has served one sixth of his sentence.

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