John Wesley Hall

Violent crimes require intensive investigation of the facts

The Arkansas State Police have arrested a 27-year-old man who allegedly started a fire at a residence on Dec. 21 to cover up a child's death. They have charged the accused with the violent crimes of first-degree murder and arson. The accused had originally claimed that the gas explosion to the house was not any of his doing, according to police.

The police say that the accused changed his story and admitted to being involved in the 2-year-old toddler's death. He now admits that the child came into his room on that date and was vomiting. He admitted to pulling the toddler by the ankles to get him on a bed, according to court records. However, the child reportedly fell on his head and started to shake, per court records. The man allegedly told police that he tried for a long time to revive the child but to no avail.

The authorities claim that the accused admitted to lighting the gas and starting the fire in order to destroy the child's body, thereby covering up the boy's death. The man then escaped the home with three other children who were unharmed. The toddler's body was retrieved from the house during the conflagration.

Violent crimes cases like this one always present a strong challenge for criminal defense counsel in Arkansas and elsewhere. After making a thorough investigation of the facts, defense counsel must determine whether the police obtained a voluntary confession that was not made under duress. In addition to the constitutional issues, an argument may be reasonably made that this is not a case of first-degree murder, but that the accused may be responsible for a lesser crime, based on the current version of the facts that are reported.

Source: arkansasmatters.com, "Update: Paris Man Causes House Explosion to Cover Child's Death", Dec. 27, 2017

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