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Prosecutors have dropped murder charges against a Florida inmate accused of killing a man in North Little Rock nearly a year ago.

Pulaski County deputy prosecutor Ashley Clancy told Circuit Judge Herb Wright on Monday that prosecutors were withdrawing the first-degree murder and firearm counts against Charles Brent Gant because the only eyewitness to the November slaying of Pedro Omar Baez Esperanza had recanted his claim that he saw Gant shoot Esperanza.

Clancy told the judge that the witness identification was the basis for the arrest warrant charging Gant with murder.

Esperanza, 31, of North Little Rock was found fatally wounded at 14th and Vine streets 10 months ago. Police obtained an arrest warrant for Gant the next day.

The prosecutor did not name the witness in court, but records show that he is Deangelo Lamon Davis of North Little Rock. Davis, 25, who has been jailed for the past seven months, is awaiting transport to prison to serve a five-year sentence for repeatedly violating his probation on forgery, breaking-or-entering, and firearm convictions.

Gant of North Little Rock was brought back to Arkansas from Florida about three months ago, and he'll be returned there to finish serving a sentence for dealing drugs. Gant has 10 felony convictions in Arkansas and was on parole for drug-trafficking in Little Rock and Pulaski County at the time of Esperanza's slaying.

He was arrested about a week after, on Dec. 8, when a federal fugitive-hunting team tracked him to a home in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., to arrest him on the Arkansas homicide charge.

Authorities said Gant tried to run from officers, who chased him down and found marijuana and cocaine on him.

Gant initially gave officers a fake name. He pleaded no contest to the related felony drug-trafficking charges in February and was sentenced to two years and three months in prison.


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Metro on 10/13/2017

Print Headline: Witness alters story; murder charge erased

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