A 28-year-old Louisiana man involved in the slayings of two Little Rock men six weeks apart in 2018 has accepted a 60-year prison sentence.
Darren Jackson of Baton Rouge pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder in exchange for the 60-year term imposed by Pulaski County Circuit Judge Barry Sims, according to sentencing papers filed Thursday. Jackson's plea agreement was negotiated by deputy prosecutor Scott Duncan and public defender Brett Qualls. Jackson will have to serve 42 years before he is eligible for parole.
Maurice Michael Culberson was the first to be killed, with police finding the 64-year-old married father of four fatally wounded in his red 2003 Lincoln Town Car about 10:25 p.m. July 7, 2018, behind his brother's apartment at 1321 Jefferson St. in the Madison Heights Apartments.
Culberson's brother, Maceo, told police they and a third man had been driving around drinking beer that night in Maurice Culberson's car but nothing unusual happened. Maceo Culberson, 70, told investigators he heard what he thought were fireworks and then saw two young men, like teenagers, run up shooting into his brother's car before running off. He said he didn't know why anyone would shoot his brother.
Over the next six weeks, detectives interviewed the third man who had been with the brothers that night, and retraced their path to gather what surveillance video they could of their evening drive. Investigators also questioned neighbors in the apartments, checked up on anyone they could think of who might have held a grudge against Culberson, and looked at the possibility that two brothers who lived in the area who had been arrested for robbery might be responsible for the shooting.
By the time the second victim Donnell Walker, 39, was killed, shortly after midnight Aug. 23, 2018, investigators had no real leads into Culberson's death. Walker, a father of two, was also the son of the third man who had been with the Culberson brothers, 59-year-old Rogell Smith.
Walker was killed at 4608 Princeton Drive, the home of 39-year-old Kimberly Katrice Smith, the mother of Walker's teenage daughter, court filings show. Jackson was Smith's boyfriend, according to police, and while questioning Smith investigators learned that Jackson had gone to a home a couple of blocks away after Walker was killed, arresting him within the hour, according to police reports.
Smith told police that Walker had shown up at her house drunk looking for their daughter, saying he wanted the girl to come live with him, according to court filings. Smith said Walker walked into the house, causing a disturbance, and that he and Jackson started to argue.
As things got heated between the men, Walker went outside. Smith told investigators she saw Jackson shooting at Walker as the older man ran around his car that was parked in front of her home, saying she called 911 when Walker fell down. She told police she lost sight of Jackson and didn't know where he was.
Questioned by detectives, Jackson first said that he was not at the house and didn't know what had happened before stating that he had been there but had left after Walker arrived.
After a gunshot-residue test on his hands showed positive, Jackson told police Walker had barged into the house, despite being told his daughter was not at home. Jackson said Walker was creating a disturbance, talking about killing him and Smith, so he went into the bedroom to get away from Walker. Walker followed him, making threats about being a gangster, Jackson said. Walker told him he was going outside to get something but that he'd be right back, Jackson told police.
Jackson said he grabbed his gun and walked outside, stating that he saw Walker next to Walker's car, so he fired the weapon at him two or three times. Jackson said he walked around the corner and threw the gun into a yard as he walked to the home where police found him.
That home, 4600 W. 16th St., was the residence of Smith's nephew, 29-year-old Christopher Wayne Greene. He told police Jackson showed up and told him he had just shot "that man," court filings show.
Greene said he left the house to find police when Jackson said he still had the gun on him, although Greene said he never saw a weapon.
Jackson was in jail for two months before he came to the attention of detectives investigating the Culberson homicide. On Halloween 2018, detectives reviewing Jackson's recorded jail phone calls overheard him talking to a woman, whom detectives subsequently interviewed about their conversation.
The woman, unidentified in court files, told police that on July 7, 2018, she heard Jackson say that Greene had shot a man at some nearby apartments, which she believed to be Madison Heights, while trying to rob him, court filings show. She said that Greene said he had pulled the trigger, stating "it is what it is."
Questioned about Culberson's killing, Jackson told investigators he and Greene had been in the area around the apartments looking to rob someone and that Greene shot a man in a car while trying to rob him.
Interviewed later that same day, Greene told police Jackson was the one who wanted to rob the man in the car and that Jackson was the one who shot the man while trying to rob him, court filings show. He was arrested in Culberson's slaying immediately after that interview and remains jailed, awaiting trial.