Death penalty not sought in Pearcy slaying of five

— Garland County prosecutors will not seek the death penalty against Samuel Conway, one of two Hot Springs men charged with capital murder in the November 2009 slaying of five people in Pearcy.

In pretrial hearings Monday, Conway’s attorneys dropped several motions made since March seeking relief from the possibility of the death penalty because of the decision.

The prosecuting attorney’s office had previously refused to comment on whether it would seek the death penalty because of a gag order placed on the case during the investigation.

On Nov. 12, 2009, authorities found the bullet-riddled bodies of Jeremy Gentry, 24; his girlfriend Kristyn Warneke, 19; his father Edward Gentry Jr., 56; and his mother Pamela Gentry, 52; in their burnt trailer.

Authorities found Jeremy Gentry’s grandfather, Edward Gentry Sr., 80, shot dead in his trailer next door.

Also Monday, Garland County Circuit Judge Homer Wright denied a motion asking for a continuance in the case against Conway.

Conway’s attorney, Pat Aydelott, asked to delay the trial until Thursday because of a pending state Crime Laboratory analysis of fingerprints and DNA samples from a potential witness.

Aydelott also complained that the defense had received a discovery packet from the prosecuting attorney’s office on Wednesday, only six days before jury selection was scheduled to start.

Wright called a recess while he looked at the 246-page discovery packet. He later made his decision to move forward as scheduled with jury selection starting today at 8:30 a.m.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Joe Graham said he did not plan to call the witness awaiting DNA results because he has continued to evade police. He also said the majority of the discovery packet dealt with administrative notes.

Conway, 24, faces charges of arson, two counts of aggravated residential burglary, theft of property over $500 and over $2,500, theft of a firearm, and five counts of capital murder.

Jeremy Pickney, 24, is scheduled to face the same charges in his July 12 trial in Garland County Circuit Court.

A third suspect in the murders, Marvin Stringer, was shot and killed by police during a standoff with officers trying to arrest him at a Hot Springs motel in November 2009.

Aydelott had previously asked for a mental evaluation for Conway, but withdrew a potential defense of Conway having a mental disease or defect at the time of the shootings. Aydelott told Wright his defense would be based on Conway not being at the Gentrys’ homes on the night of the slayings.

After authorities found the Gentrys and Warneke, police also discovered Edward Gentry Sr.’s stolen truck burned and abandoned in Hot Springs.

Several items were determined to be missing from the Gentry homes, including rims, tires, flat-screen televisions and several guns, according to affidavits in the case.

Conway is also facing separate capital-murder charges along with two other people in the 2005 death of Mary Anderson, a woman who was baby-sitting her young grandchildren when she was robbed and killed in her home.

Arkansas, Pages 16 on 06/14/2011

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