Pulaski County prosecutors have dropped first-degree murder charges against two men arrested 17 years after a 2003 North Little Rock slaying.
Deputy prosecutor Scott Duncan told Circuit Judge Karen Whatley that the witness whose account led to the charges against Rashun Antonio Hopson, 41, of Jacksonville and Antwon Deshun Norman, 41, of Little Rock, has changed her story. They were arrested in 2020.
Hopson, represented by attorney Bill Simpson, was in court to hear the Aug. 24 decision. Norman is in prison, serving the 13th year of a 33-year sentence for bank robbery and firearm possession.
Thursday was the 20th anniversary of the slaying of Charles Earl Peeks, the North Little Rock man they were accused of killing. The 43-year-old North Little Rock man was found dead from a gunshot to the chest near the intersection of East Short 17th and Division street.
Peeks, a resident of the neighborhood, had been shot in the chest but managed to walk down the street before collapsing in the driveway at 1502 W. Short 17th. Police at the time said that a witness had seen three men running from the area after hearing a gunshot.
Court records show Hopson was convicted of first-degree battery and committing a terroristic act in Clark County in 2000 and sentenced to probation, which was revoked in January 2004. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison then.
Paroled in June 2008, he was arrested in Little Rock in July 2012 on first-degree battery and terroristic act charges for shooting 24-year-old Mario Damon Paxton of Little Rock.
Hopson said the shooting was in self defense before pleading guilty to lesser charges, being a felon in possession of a firearm and misdemeanor battery two years later in exchange for a 17-month prison sentence, which allowed for his immediate release from jail with credit for time served.
Norman has been behind bars since 2009 and is serving a 30-year prison sentence for his role that year in the armed robbery of the Bank of the Ozarks branch, now Bank OZK, at 11102 N. Rodney Parham Road.
Norman, then 27, and another man robbed the bank at gunpoint then fled in a stolen pickup driven by a third robber. The trio abandoned the truck a few blocks away and set it on fire then switched to a 1996 Cadillac DeVille. Police arrested the trio after a chase.
Norman, who had been on probation since July 2006 for drug possession and aggravated assault convictions, subsequently pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery, theft by receiving and theft as well as an unrelated firearm charge, in exchange for a 33-year prison sentence.He'll be eligible for parole in June 2032.
The other gunman, Chester Dickerson, then 32, received the same sentence in exchange for pleading guilty to aggravated robbery, felon in possession of a firearm, theft by receiving and theft. Eric Lee, the 28-year-old getaway driver, was sentenced to 15 years for aggravated robbery, theft, felon with a firearm and fleeing. He was approved for parole in 2019.