A 19-year-old Little Rock man who told investigators he opened fire on a neighbor who had wounded him in the back with a pellet gun remained behind bars on Friday, a day after his bail was set at $150,000.
In Thursday's hearing, Makel Dewaun Lowery's lawyer called the Dec. 30 shooting of 55-year-old Franklin Mason "Frank" Lloyd self-defense while prosecutors who said the slaying was not justified have charged him with first-degree murder. Lowery has been held without bail since his arrest the day of the slaying.
Deputy prosecutor Justin Brown asked for a $500,000 bond, stating that Lowery's decision to get a gun to approach Lloyd after an earlier confrontation between the men undermined a self-defense argument.
Lowery's attorney, Leslie Borgognoni, asked for a much lower amount since his parents could only afford to put up about $6,000 toward a bond.
"The defendant shoots him in the back. He turns and sees a gun barrel pointed at him," Borgognoni told the judge. "The natural self-defense technique is to shoot or be shot ...and that's what he did.
Pulaski County Circuit Judge Karen Whatley said she was taking Lowery's age and absence of criminal history into account. She told the defendant, a ninth-grade dropout, to focus on getting his high school diploma, like his parents want him to, or at least get a job.
"Don't make me regret this," she told him.
Lowery surrendered to sheriff's deputies about six hours after Lloyd was found wounded in his home at 3525 Tony Road in the Nancy Jean subdivision of the Higgins community. Lowery had called 911 for help in the early afternoon of Dec. 30. Shot three times in the right shoulder and side, Lloyd told the officers "Makel shot me" before an ambulance took him to the hospital where he died, sheriff's investigator Anthony Braxton told the judge.
Lloyd's mother said she did not see who shot her son, stating that she had been in the bathroom when she had heard him arguing with someone then gunshots, Braxton said.
Lowery lives at 3525 Tony but he wasn't home when deputies arrived, Braxton said. His mother, Latesha Moneke Adams, 41, told deputies that she didn't know her son had a gun until she had heard him firing it earlier and told him to stop, the deputy testified.
Adams said that Lowery believed Lloyd had broken into a storage building on their property and taken some of his things. She said Lowery had gone to confront Lloyd about the thefts and had returned with some of the stolen items.
However, Lowery went back to see Lloyd again after realizing the older man had not returned his camera, although she had recommended that he just let things go and not return, Braxton said.
Adams further told investigators that she heard gunshots a bit later and then Lowery came back to the house, saying "I just shot Frank." Lowery told his mother that Lloyd had first shot him in the back with a pellet gun, Braxton testified.
Deputies collected two cellphones and a camera in the space between the homes, Braxton said.
In custody, Lowery said he had security camera video on his phone that showed how Lloyd had gotten into the storage building. Lowery wanted to show investigators the recording but chose not to after they told him he could not directly access the phone and must give them the password so they could retrieve the recording, Braxton said.
Lowery also described how he had gone to Lloyd's house unarmed to retrieve his possessions but had gone back with his gun after discovering the camera was not among the items Lloyd had returned, Braxton told the judge.
Lowery also said he knew that Lloyd regularly carried a pellet gun on his property, the investigator said, describing how deputies found one in Lloyd's home.
Braxton said he had Lowery describe the moments leading up to the shooting several times before Lowery got tired of talking about it.
"He said, that's all I need to know. 'I shot him,'" the deputy testified.
Lowery, who denied firing a gun before the shooting like his mother described, said he threw the gun away, telling the deputies that he had kept the pistol in the woods by his home, the investigator said. Lowery said he threw the weapon away after the shooting but that his mother knew where the weapon was. When investigators inquired, she had her boyfriend deliver the gun to the sheriff's office, Braxton said.
On cross examination, Braxton told the judge that he did not know whether Lowery had been wounded in the back but that he had seen blood on the back of Lowery's shirt.