The now former attorney for a man charged with capital murder in the 1994 disappearance of Searcy resident Jarrod Green has asked a court to set bail at $100,000, in part because the lawyer said the state has no proof that Green is dead.
Brandon Wheeler, 41, of Weatherford, Texas, was charged in May with capital murder and abuse of a corpse and has been held without bail at the White County jail in Searcy since he waived extradition from Ohio, where he was arrested on his job site.
Searcy police spokesman Terri Lee has declined to comment on whether authorities have found Green's remains. Prosecuting Attorney Rebecca Reed McCoy was out of her office Thursday and unavailable for comment by phone.
"The likelihood of conviction of Defendant in this case is low," defense attorney Tim Blair said in a motion signed May 26 and filed Tuesday in White County Circuit Court. "No new evidence has been discovered. ... Further, there is no proof that Mr. Green is deceased, or assuming his demise that it was caused by malignant intent by another.
"The accusations against Defendant are based solely on [22-year-old] out of court statements and conjecture," Blair added.
A woman answering the phone at Blair's office Thursday said he no longer represents Wheeler. An attorney believed to be representing Wheeler now was in court and unavailable for comment, that lawyer's office said.
Blair's motion also said the state had informed him that it intends to waive the death penalty. In Arkansas, capital murder is punishable by death or by life in prison without parole.
Blair also said Wheeler poses no danger to the community and has no felony convictions.
Wheeler has no criminal history other than a driving-while-intoxicated charge in 1999 and a handgun violation in Los Angeles, Blair said.
"Mr. Wheeler had a valid Arkansas concealed handgun permit, but he was unaware that California did not recognize his permit," Blair wrote.
A police affidavit filed in the murder case said Green, who was 20 at the time, left his home to settle a drug debt on Sept. 30, 1994, and disappeared. His father reported him missing days later.
The case was never closed, and on Dec. 19, 2016, a judge signed a warrant so authorities could search some uninhabited property in rural White County, where police said evidence indicated Green's body had been disposed of. The affidavit said cadaver dogs found the evidence, but police did not specify whether that was bones, possessions or something else.
Blair's motion that seeks bail said Wheeler was not a flight risk.
"Defendant has never failed to appear when ordered to appear nor fled any jurisdiction to avoid prosecution," Blair wrote. "Defendant has worked and lived [overseas], 2006-2008, but is willing to surrender his passport to assure the Court that he will be present for all hearings."
Blair also said Wheeler was "a person of good character with ties to the community." Wheeler's job as a pipeline inspector requires him to travel, but Wheeler has returned to the White County area "several times a year for family functions," Blair wrote.
Wheeler's job was taking him west, so he sold his home recently and had moved to Las Vegas with his wife and young son, the attorney added.
Any bond that may be set for Wheeler "will likely be partially posted by family members, who will ensure his attendance," Blair wrote. Blair suggested a "reasonable bond" of $100,000.
Wheeler is scheduled for arraignment Tuesday morning.
State Desk on 06/02/2017
Print Headline: Lawyer: Fair bail for client $100,000; Evidence called weak in ’94 case