Among violent crimes, a murder case is especially challenging to criminal defense counsel. In Arkansas and elsewhere, a criminal prosecution for first-degree murder requires the full attention of the defense attorney and his investigative staff. It is the attorney's duty to give a vigorous and comprehensive defense, and to recognize and deal with all issues that may exonerate the charges or allow for a reduction in their severity.
Johnson County authorities arrested a 25-year-old Pope County man on Nov. 5 and charged him with first-degree murder in the apparent death of his male cousin. A body was found in a badly burned condition in the trunk of a vehicle at Cabin Creek Park. The vehicle was determined to be registered to the missing cousin.
The body was examined at the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory in Little Rock. The medical examiner concluded that it was a homicide. However, it is unclear whether the actual identity of the victim is confirmed at this time. Investigators were unable to locate alive the man who is believed to be the victim.
Circumstances seem to point to the cousin as the victim. The defendant allegedly told a friend that he killed him but it was an accident. The father and grandmother of the missing cousin said that the defendant threatened to kill him. Authorities have found several blood samples that are being analyzed.
Arkansas criminal defense counsel will want to question the accused in great detail regarding the recent events, including with respect to any past history with the cousin. He will want to examine the vehicle, talk to witnesses and investigate any other forensic evidence that exists. If the defendant is in fact claiming that there was an accident instead of an intentional murder, that aspect must be investigated thoroughly and developed for corroboration. However, it may be a difficult defense based on the apparent steps taken by the perpetrator to evade detection, which is generally more indicative of intentional criminal behavior.
Source: swtimes.com, "Pope County Man Accused Of Killing Cousin In Johnson County", Stacy Ryburn, Nov. 6, 2014