Arkansas teen pleads innocent to murder, gang charges

FAYETTEVILLE -- An 18-year-old Springdale man pleaded innocent Wednesday to charges of first-degree murder and engaging in a continuing criminal gang, organization or enterprise in a fatal shooting last month.

Police found Javier Nicolas-Rodriguez, 19, of Bethel Heights about 3 a.m. Dec. 6 in a car that crashed in the driveway at 1659 Pioneer St., in the northeast part of Springdale. He died of a gunshot wound, according to a police report.

Anjel Antonio Torres is the suspect in the slaying. Torres fled to California and was arrested Dec. 9 in Barstow, authorities said. Torres was extradited to Arkansas on Dec. 26.

Torres also is charged with committing a terroristic act and three counts of aggravated assault related to shooting at a car with multiple occupants, according to court documents.

At his arraignment Wednesday, Torres was given an initial court date of March 26 before Circuit Judge Mark Lindsay. Bail is set at $500,000.

Torres faces 10 to 40 years or life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder.

Another man, Jose Mendoza, 18, is charged with helping Torres elude police. Mendoza was arrested along with Torres in California after police traced his cellphone.

Mendoza, of Springdale, has an arraignment hearing set for Friday in Washington County Circuit Court on one count of hindering apprehension or prosecution.

State Desk on 01/14/2019