TEXARKANA — A Texarkana woman sentenced last year to life in prison without parole in the murder of a fellow square dancer was back in Miller County for a hearing Friday afternoon.
Virginia Ann Hyatt, 69, sat in a wheelchair as a member of the Miller County sheriff’s office pushed her into the courtroom. Hyatt was found guilty by a Miller County jury in the December 2013 shooting death of Patricia “Patti” Wheeling-ton, 54.
Wheelington, Hyatt and Hyatt’s husband were members of the Guys and Dolls dance club in Texarkana, and Hyatt blamed Wheelington for the demise of her decadeslong marriage, according to court records. Wheelington was shot as she sat in a bath robe on the front porch of her South Valley Road home in Texarkana.
Hyatt has been in Arkansas Department of Correction custody since her conviction.
Members of Hyatt’s defense team, Texarkana lawyers John Pickett, Bruce Condit and Damon Young, worked with Prosecuting Attorney Stephanie Black, Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Chuck Black and Circuit Judge Randal Wright to address issues Friday in the official record of Hyatt’s February 2016 capital murder trial.
The case is on appeal to the Arkansas Supreme Court. The high court recently issued an order identifying problems with exhibits, including video evidence, encountered during a review of the case necessary to address the appeal.
A mislabeled copy of a video of Hyatt traveling through a McDonald’s drive-thru the morning of the murder was among the minor issues settled Friday by the trial court. A document stipulating certain facts about the trial and the official record along with correctly labeled discs and other evidence used at trial will now be forwarded to the high court so that it can decide whether Hyatt’s appeal has merit.
Hyatt has complained that the evidence at trial was insufficient to support the jury’s finding of guilt.
During the trial, the jury heard testimony from many members of the now-defunct Guys and Dolls club regarding Hyatt’s undisguised animosity toward Wheelington. Witnesses testified that Hyatt was proficient in the use of a pistol and that she had previously gone to Wheelington’s home uninvited to confront her.
Hyatt claimed she couldn’t have killed Wheelington because she was at her mother’s nursing home visiting with her and delivering a McDonald’s sausage biscuit.
Video footage from the nursing home and from Mc-Donald’s showed Hyatt’s activities actually occurred later in the morning than she claimed. Video footage from a convenience store showed a car that appeared to be Hyatt’s traveling a road near Wheelington’s home around the time of the killing.
Print Headline: Records corrected in ’13 murder case; Square dancer appeals conviction