Arkansas Supreme Court to hear DeAunta case

whenry@tri-statedefender.com | 12/19/2007, 6 p.m.

During a recent rally at the Steeple Chase Apartments in West Memphis, Ark., where DeAunta was killed, Deborah Farrow and Unseld Nance (right), DeAunta’s mother and 14-year-old cousin, reflect as supporters cry out for justice. (Tri-State Defender file photo by Wiley Henry)


In three separate investigations, Sammis and Evans were cleared of any wrongdoing in the June 22 shooting death.

After much legalese and courtroom jousting, the Arkansas Supreme Court has decided to hear oral arguments to determine whether an investigation is warranted in the police shooting death of DeAunta Farrow.
   
The 12-year-old was fatally wounded earlier this year in the Steeple Chase Apartments by West Memphis police officer Erik Sammis and his partner, Jimmy Evans. Unseld Nance, DeAunta’s 14-year-old cousin, was with him the night he was killed.
   
In three separate investigations, Sammis and Evans were cleared of any wrongdoing in the June 22 shooting death. Investigators concluded that Sammis, who claimed the boy had what appeared to be a real gun, was justified in firing his weapon.
   
Despite public outcry and deep-seated angst in the West Memphis community, prosecutors said the evidence did not warrant criminal charges against Sammis and Evans. The Farrow family, however, are still miffed.
   
Javier Bailey, Farrow family attorney, has filed a multimillion-dollar civil suit. Sammis, Evans, West Memphis Mayor William Johnson, Chief of Police Robert Paudert, the City of West Memphis, and the Steeple Chase Apartments are named as defendants in the lawsuit.
   
In this latest development, the Supreme Court will decide if a grand jury should be convened and whether a new special prosecutor should be assigned to the case.
   
The case is scheduled for Jan. 24 in Little Rock, Ark.