DISASTER FUNDING-POLK COUNTY
Pryor: Polk County to receive $1.1M in FEMA funds
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - U.S. Senator Mark Pryor says Polk County will receive $1.1 million in disaster-relief funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Pryor announced the funding Thursday and said it's to help the county recover from damage caused by winter storms in 2013. The funding is included in an omnibus appropriations bill.
FEMA said the funding will be provided to Rich Mountain Electric Cooperative in Mena to repair its damaged distribution center.
PAROLE BOARD RECOMMENDATIONS
Board rejects convicted Arkansas inmate's request
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The Arkansas Pardon and Parole Board has denied a commutation request from a man convicted of killing a Pocahontas police officer.
The board announced Thursday that it rejected the commutation request of 55-year-old Dwight Sullinger.
Sullinger is serving life in prison after being convicted of the 1991 shooting death of Officer Scotty Bennett. Prosecutors say Sullinger shot Bennett as the officer approached Sullinger's home after Sullinger had called and asked Bennett to come to the home.
The board also recommended commutation of the life sentence of convicted killer Danny Verdict. Verdict convicted of the 1992 shooting death of his wife, Marcella Verdict, in Craighead County.
The recommendation goes to Gov. Mike Beebe, who has previously denied a clemency recommendation for Verdict.
GREENBRIER STABBING DEATH-APPEAL
Lawyer argues for new trial over stabbing death
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A lawyer for a man convicted of capital murder for the stabbing death of a woman in Greenbrier argues a circuit judge should have halted his trial when the defendant exhibited behavior that suggested he was mentally ill.
The Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday heard arguments in the appeal of Ronald Britton Jr. of Beebe, who was convicted and sentenced to life without parole in the 2010 slaying of 20-year-old Michelle Asher.
A lawyer for the Arkansas attorney general's office argued that Britton appeared to have manufactured his symptoms.
Britton's lawyer says the trial judge should have ordered a new mental evaluation and said the judge should have declared a mistrial when Britton was shackled, handcuffed and fitted with a stun belt in front of the jury.
WALNUT RIDGE-POLICE SHOOTING
Chief: Walnut Ridge police fatally shoot man
WALNUT RIDGE, Ark. (AP) - Authorities say a Walnut Ridge police officer fatally shot a man after the man shot his ex-wife then pointed his gun at police.
Walnut Ridge Police Chief Richy Thatcher says the man intentionally crashed his vehicle into his ex-wife's car early Wednesday. Thatcher says the man then shot the woman with a handgun.
Two Walnut Ridge officers who responded ordered the man to drop his weapon. Thatcher says the man then shot himself in the side then turned with his gun facing the officers. One officer opened fire, killing the man.
The police chief says the woman was taken to a Memphis, Tenn., hospital, where she is in stable condition.
No names have been released. Thatcher says the officers involved in the incident are on paid administrative leave.
Arkansas court won't reconsider Risperdal case
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The Arkansas Supreme Court says it will not reconsider its decision to reject a $1.2 billion judgment against a pharmaceutical company accused of improperly marketing an antipsychotic drug.
Justices last month overturned a Pulaski County ruling that favored the state. In a 4-3 decision Thursday, the court turned down a request by Attorney General Dustin McDaniel to consider the case again.
McDaniel had said the court was wrong when it said the state misapplied a Medicaid fraud law in its case against New Jersey-based Johnson & Johnson and a subsidiary over the drug Risperdal.
The state had claimed Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. didn't properly communicate the drug's risks and shouldn't have marketed it for off-label use. The company said there was no fraud and that Arkansas' Medicaid program wasn't harmed.
Hearing set on proposed Norphlet-Smackover merger
SMACKOVER, Ark. (AP) - The Arkansas Board of Education is to consider the proposed consolidation of the Norphlet and Smackover school districts at its hearing next month in Little Rock.
Both schools have approved the voluntary annexation of the Norphlet district into the Smackover district. The consolidation came about because Norphlet's enrollment is declining and nearing the state minimum of 350 students.
According to the El Dorado News-Times, the proposed merger would create the Smackover-Norphlet School District, beginning with the 2014-2015 school year. Kindergarten through 12th grades would continue to operate at both campuses with the school names and mascots remaining the same for one year.
The board is set to consider the proposed merger at its meeting May 8.
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