BENTONVILLE -- David Adair admitted Tuesday to killing Lavonte Jackson.
Jackson's brother, Elijah, described the impact of the murder at Adair's sentencing hearing, telling Adair that he had taken away a brother, a father and his best friend.
"I hope you are forever haunted by your actions," Jackson said, standing a few feet from Adair.
Adair, 28, of Rogers was originally charged with capital murder but agreed to plead guilty to a lesser charge of second-degree murder. He also pleaded guilty to battery and possession of a firearm by certain persons.
Adair also was charged with raping a fellow inmate in the Benton County Jail. Prosecutors dismissed the rape charge as part of the plea agreement that Bryan Sexton, chief deputy prosecutor, reached with Kent McLemore and Joel Huggins, Adair's attorneys. The battery and possession of firearm by certain persons charges are in connection with a 2019 arrest after Adair shot a man in the foot.
Benton County Circuit Judge Brad Karren accepted the plea agreement and Adair's guilty plea.
Adair was sentenced to 30 years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections. He must abide by a suspended sentence agreement for 20 years after his release from prison.
Lavonte Jackson's body was found Feb. 24, 2020, on the side of Van Hollow Road near Beaver Lake. Jackson was 23 years old when he died.
Benton County Sheriff Shawn Holloway previously said deputies believe Jackson was killed in the Beaver Shores area near the Arkansas 12 bridge, which is 7 or 8 miles from where the body was found.
Elijah Jackson said his brother should still be at their family events. He asked Adair if he ever thought about his brother's children or his and Lavonte's mother. He told Adair he destroyed their mother.
"I say once again, I hope you are haunted by your actions," Elijah Jackson said. "I hope you rot."
Adair stood and looked ahead but occasionally glanced toward Jackson.
"The day we lost Lavonte we also lost our sister," said Joseline Palma, Lavonte Jackson's aunt. "She died from a broken heart, not being able to deal with the loss of her son."
Palma said her family had to deal with the heartache of losing their two loved ones.
"We won't ever get to see or hear their voices again," she said. "They both had big, beautiful smiles that would light up a room. Souls that were taken from this earth too soon."
Sexton read a statement on behalf of Chelsey Martin, Jackson's fiancee. Martin said in her statement she knows Lavonte is in heaven and no longer suffering on Earth, and her daughters will always know who their father is.
"I would also like to say that I truly forgive you for what you have done, not for myself but for Lavonte, because that's exactly what he would want me to do and be at peace," Sexton read. "He is still loved, and he will get justice."
When given a chance to speak, Adair turned and looked at Elijah Jackson and the other family members in the courtroom. He apologized for Jackson's death and for the family losing a family member.
"I didn't lose my brother," Elijah Jackson quickly responded from his seat in the courtroom. "You took him."
Adair apologized again and said Lavonte Jackson was his friend and that he's sorry and he could not bring Lavonte back. Adair said he hopes one day the family will be able to forgive him.
Sexton said he discussed the plea agreement with the family and detectives with the Benton County sheriff's office.
Lydia Riggs, 22, of West Fork and Zackary Whitcomb, 21, of Rogers are also charged with murder in the case. Sexton said he's sent plea offers to attorneys for the pair but will need to discuss any counteroffers with the family.
The judge scheduled hearings for Sept. 13 for Riggs and Whitcomb.
Mark Brannan, 32, of Fayetteville is charged in the case with abuse of a corpse, hindering apprehension and prosecution, and tampering with physical evidence. His next court appearance is scheduled for July 26.
The judge had issued a gag order in the case, but lifted it only concerning Adair's case.