A 56-year-old North Little Rock man who fatally shot a 22-year-old man in a Crystal Hill trailer park has accepted a 19-year prison sentence on a reduced charge.
Sentencing papers filed on Monday show Jerry Wayne West pleaded guilty to manslaughter, reduced from first-degree murder, and being a felon in possession of a firearm for the April 2020 slaying of 22-year-old Richard Jay Pickard of North Little Rock in a plea agreement negotiated by deputy prosecutor Michelle Quiller and defense attorney Tamera Deaver. Pickard would have turned 26 on Thursday.
Pulaski County sheriff's deputies said the men had been in an altercation when West shot the younger man at 5202 Standridge Road, next door to the mobile-home park where West lived. Pickard was shot twice on the right side and was found in a ditch.
West was taken into custody while being driven away from the scene by his girlfriend, 77-year-old Connie Joe Kelsey of Mayflower, who owns the property, court filings show. She told investigators that West had told her to drive him away and that she was scared and wasn't sure what was going on. Kelsey further said that West had told her not to stop for the deputy who had pulled her over.
Reports show a gun was found in the vehicle but don't say whether it was the one used to shoot Pickard. Investigators did not say what the dispute between West and Pickard was about. West admitted to shooting the younger man, according to an arrest report.
Police reports show deputies had investigated a complaint about Pickard and his older brother, William Patrick Pickard IV, 28, of North Little Rock, setting fire in January 2020 to an unattended mobile home at 5214 Standridge. About two weeks before the slaying, deputies were called to the area to investigate a complaint that the Pickard brothers had broken into the neighboring Community Chapel Pentecostal Church of God, 5205 Standridge, and stolen the copper wiring out of its air conditioner and at the neighboring parsonage's air conditioner.
William Pickard was arrested but charges were not filed. He subsequently was sentenced to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to arson for the fire and charges of aggravated residential burglary, second-degree battery and aggravated assault for forcing his way into the Standridge Road home of Terry Lee Wilson, 51, in May 2020, about two weeks after his brother was killed.
William Pickard beat Wilson with a flashlight, kicked him and choked him, telling Wilson, "you are the reason my brother was murdered" before running away, court filings show. Court records don't show why Pickard made the accusation.
Arrested four days later, Pickard denied any involvement in the attack, telling investigators he was with his great- grandmother, Pauline Phillips, baking a cake at the time.
West had been on probation for about two months at the time after pleading guilty to drug charges arising from an October 2019 arrest at his home with methamphetamine and a pipe. His probation officers had discovered the contraband during an examination of the property.
He had been placed on probation in October 2015 after pleading guilty to aggravated assault, terroristic threatening and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
The charges stemmed from a July 2014 arrest at his house for threatening Kelsey's daughter, 37-year-old Sarah Childress, with a shotgun after she had accused him of stealing the battery from her car. Childress, who also lived on the park grounds, said she left but West's son, 30-year-old son David Robert West, also accosted her. Deputies found two shotguns in the residence while arresting father and son. The extent of Jerry West's criminal history was not clear, although court records show he had been in trouble with the law before in Missouri.
The younger West subsequently pleaded guilty to felon in possession of a firearm and received five years on probation.
Court records show that four months after Pickard was killed, David West, who was on parole for failure to register as a sex offender, was arrested for carrying prohibited weapons, a misdemeanor, near the park after someone called to report a suspicious person near the church.
He was arrested after deputies discovered he had a steak knife in a tube sock and was wanted on a parole violation. He pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor in June 2020, court records show. A 2008 Oregon conviction for incest with a minor requires West to register his residence with authorities.