Bids to toss warrants in Fort Smith death case fail

Searches turned up weapons in slaying detective links to Fort Smith gang

Posted: October 25, 2017 at 1 a.m.

FORT SMITH -- Four members of the Slanga 96 gang crashed a wedding party seeking the whereabouts of a man they later killed in a hail of gunfire, police detectives testified Tuesday.

During a hearing in Sebastian County Circuit Court, one of the Fort Smith police detectives, Anthony Parkinson, said Bryan Porras, 20; Alberto Chavez, 19; Ryan Oxford, 20; and Jorge Chirinos, 17, were looking for 18-year-old Justin Lopez and 21-year-old Trey Miller on Jan. 14 because they believed the two had made disrespectful comments about the Slanga 96 gang.

Parkinson said someone at the wedding party told the four gang members where they could find Lopez and Miller and they drove to the alley behind 2315 N. Ninth St., where Lopez and Miller were in a camping trailer in the backyard.

After their arrest, Parkinson said, Chavez and Oxford told detectives that the four went into the yard, where two of the four men were armed with an AR-15 and an AK-47 rifle, and opened fire on the trailer. They hit the trailer with 33 bullets and killed Lopez inside. Miller, who hid in the rear bedroom of the trailer, was uninjured.

Miller told police that when the shooting stopped, he heard "whooping and hollering" and sounds of celebrating coming from outside the trailer, according to Parkinson.

Searches and arrests began after Miller told police who he believed was involved in the shooting.

Parkinson and other detectives testified Tuesday in a hearing on motions by Porras and Oxford to suppress the search warrants police executed to retrieve the two guns. They recovered the AR-15 from Porras' apartment and Oxford's AK-47 from his mother's home, where he lived.

Porras' attorney, David Dunagin, and Oxford's attorney, Jeff Atkinson, argued to Circuit Judge Michael Fitzhugh that the information detectives presented to Fort Smith District Judge Ben Beland to get him to authorize the warrants was faulty and unreliable and lacked probable cause.

They referred to inconsistencies in statements Chavez and Oxford gave to police when they were interrogated. Chavez had said Oxford was the one who fired the AR-15 into the trailer, while Oxford said it was Chavez who shot the gun.

Parkinson pointed out in his testimony that both men were consistent in their statements that Porras fired the AK-47. The statements also were consistent that the AR-15 was taken into Porras' apartment after the shooting and that Oxford took his AK-47 home.

Deputy prosecutor Scott Houston argued that the information in the affidavit detectives presented to Beland for the search warrants was accurate. He said sources of information in the affidavits were identified and detectives confirmed their statements.

Fitzhugh denied the motions to suppress the warrants.

Porras, Oxford, Chavez and Chirinos were to go on trial together Nov. 13 on charges of first-degree murder and terroristic act. Porras also was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.

At the end of Tuesday's hearing, Houston and the defendants' attorneys told Fitzhugh they will ask to sever the cases and try each separately. The attorney for Chavez, Cash Haaser, told Fitzhugh it was clear from Chavez and Oxford accusing each other of firing one of the guns that the defendants will have conflicting defenses.

It was not determined Tuesday when the trials would be held.

Chirinos also is scheduled to go before Fitzhugh on Nov. 9 for a hearing on his motion to transfer his case to juvenile court. He was 16 at the time of the shooting but was charged as an adult.

NW News on 10/25/2017