A 34-year-old North Little Rock man arrested with a dead man's credit cards and named by authorities as the Sherwood victim's killer must remain jailed until trial, a Pulaski County circuit judge ruled Thursday.
Judge Wendell Griffen noted Napoleon "Pollo" Haire Jr. has a history of skipping court when facing lesser charges. With Haire now charged with capital murder, which carries a potential death sentence, Griffen said he can't be confident that Haire will show up for court if released.
Deputy prosecutor Erin Stroman opposed Haire's release on bond, telling the judge that the defendant has a "pattern ... of committing violent offenses" and a "documented disregard for orders of the court."
Haire, also charged with aggravated robbery, is accused in the January slayings of 36-year-old Britney Alyse Bell and Steve Keith Lutman, 31, at Lutman's Markhaven Drive home.
Authorities say that Bell and Lutman, a married father estranged from his family, were killed during a holdup that was at least partially witnessed by Bell's 6-year-old son.
Bell was found dead from a gunshot to the back outside the house in the Autumnbrook subdivision. The door had been forced open and Lutman, shot through the heart, was dead in the living room.
At Thursday's bail hearing for Haire -- the first public accounting of the case against Haire and his co-defendant, 27-year-old Gabrielle Marie Hill of North Little Rock -- Sherwood detective Jeremy Farquharson testified that Bell was one of the robbers along with Haire and Hill.
Farquharson told the judge there's evidence that Bell, a mother of two with a history of drug involvement, was armed but was fatally wounded during a struggle with Lutman over Bell's gun.
The bodies were discovered by police called to the residence about two hours before sunrise Jan. 3; the detective said officers were responding to a 911 call made by another co-defendant, 20-year-old Brandi Beth "Snow" Purtle of Beebe.
Purtle was not at the home when police arrived because she had Bell's son with her and had taken the boy away, the detective said, describing an interview with Purtle.
"She didn't want Ms. Bell's son to see her like that," Farquharson testified.
Purtle told police she was with Bell and Haire when they drove to Lutman's house but that she had stayed in the car with the boy while the other two went inside, the detective said. Purtle is not accused of taking part in the robbery or slayings, but she has been charged with hindering apprehension, which carries up to 20 years in prison.
Farquharson said Purtle offered a shifting version of events during police questioning, but she told police that Hill had let Haire into the house and that while he was inside the residence, she heard a gunshot, followed by Haire coming outside the house.
Purtle also said she saw Haire firing a gun, Bell falling down in front of the house and Haire dragging Bell out of the house, although it was not clear from the testimony the order of those events.
Farquharson told the judge that the boy, who was the subject of an Amber Alert in the immediate aftermath of the slaying, was found with Haire and another woman when officers tracked down and arrested Haire at the Quality Inn & Suites at 500 W. 29th St. in North Little Rock about seven hours after the bodies were found. Haire had Lutman's credit cards and the victim's drivers license, the detective said.
Haire, initially denying any involvement, told police that he had been present at the house for a "planned robbery," the detective said.
Investigators also interviewed Bell's son, who said Haire was present when his mother was shot. The boy also described seeing Haire with at least one gun and told police that the guns were burned with "blue fire" from a "tank thing" before being thrown in the river, Farquharson told the judge.
Hill was in the house when the robbers arrived, the detective said. She regularly bought illegal drugs from Haire and worked him as a prostitute through a website called Skip The Games, and Lutman had used her services, Farquharson told the judge.
Hill had also reported Lutman to Sherwood police before, saying that Lutman had tied her up and taken her phone, the detective testified, saying authorities also knew Lutman to use illegal drugs.
Hill told investigators that she had been with Lutman the night he was killed, saying the incident began with a knock on the door by someone claiming to be North Little Rock police. Hill said she hid in a closet but saw Haire and Bell point guns at Lutman, the detective testified.
Hill further told police she saw Lutman and Bell struggling over a gun, then heard a gunshot followed by Bell crying out that she had been shot. Hill said she then saw Haire open fire at Lutman, the detective said, telling the judge that Hill had ultimately told three versions of the story to police.
The detective said police have also examined Bell's cellphone where they found text messages from another woman. The messages were Lutman's address and a photograph of his house. The woman told investigators that she had heard Haire talking about "hitting a lick," which is slang for committing a crime like robbery or burglary.
Haire did not testify at the 26-minute hearing, and his attorney, Eugene Clifford, did not call any witnesses. Clifford told the judge that he and his client did not want Haire released but rather allowed bail so Haire could check into a locked-down mental health and drug counseling program to get help he desperately needs.
The bulk of the evidence against Haire are statements made by his co-defendants, both of whom have an interest in downplaying and minimizing their own bad acts while pointing the finger at his client, Clifford said. Their stories "vary wildly" and conflict with each other while Haire has given the more consistent account of events, he told the judge.