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NEWPORT -- A 16-year-old boy accused in the June 12 fatal shooting of a Newport police officer pleaded innocent by reason of mental defect or disease Thursday during his first appearance in Jackson County Circuit Court.

Derrick Heard of Newport is charged with capital murder in the slaying of Lt. Patrick Weatherford, 41, a 15-year veteran of the Newport Police Department. Heard also faces charges of attempted capital murder, breaking or entering, theft and being a minor in possession of a handgun.

Circuit Judge Harold S. Erwin of Newport accepted the plea and ordered Heard to undergo a mental evaluation. Heard, dressed in a black T-shirt, black shorts and sneakers, did not speak during the brief hearing Thursday and was quickly ushered out of the courtroom and back to a juvenile detention facility at the Craighead County jail in Jonesboro.

His attorney, Ronald Davis of Little Rock, asked for the evaluation, requesting that Heard be tested to determine his ability to act responsibly at the time of the slaying and whether he is competent to stand trial.

Davis said that, since the case was a "high-profile" one, he expected Heard would be tested within 60 days. Erwin said he would hold a bail hearing for Heard after the evaluation is completed.

Third Judicial Circuit Prosecuting Attorney Henry Boyce of Newport called Heard's defense "unexpected."

Weatherford was killed the evening of June 12 after he and Sgt. Shane Rogers responded to a call of a vehicle break-in on the parking lot of Newport High School. The officers spotted a person and attempted to stop him, according to an arrest affidavit written by Arkansas State Police investigator Scott Pillow.

Weatherford ran after the person, whom police later identified as Heard, while Rogers pursued him in a patrol car.

Weatherford apprehended the suspect near Bowen Street and Remmel Road west of the school and radioed to a police dispatcher that the person had a weapon.

The officer was then shot. Police said the bullet struck Weatherford in the abdomen and traveled to his heart. He died later that evening at Unity Health-Harris Medical Center in Newport.

Davis said police first suspected Tyler Calamese, 18, of Newport of shooting the officer after Weatherford told others that Calamese shot him before he died.

Calamese surrendered to police about an hour and a half after Weatherford was shot. His grandmother, Janet Reynolds of Newport, said Calamese was at an apartment complex about 5 miles from where Weatherford was shot but heard his name on a police scanner.

Reynolds said Calamese went to police to "clear his name" and was arrested.

Police investigators, testifying during Calamese's probable cause hearing to hold him for capital murder, said Calamese confessed to shooting Weatherford.

Later, Boyce said Heard became a suspect and that Calamese had given Heard the handgun used to kill Weatherford.

"[Weatherford] made statements before he died that were recorded on video that went into the calculation we made in order to hold Tyler Calamese in custody," Boyce said.

He would not comment if the officer said he thought Calamese had shot him.

Boyce said video obtained from a body camera Weatherford wore and from a security camera at the school did not show Calamese.

"We are not able to place him at the scene of the shooting or the school," Boyce said.

Calamese faces charges of breaking or entering, theft and providing a handgun to a minor.

He also pleaded innocent Thursday to the charges in Jackson County Circuit Court.

Chris Nebben and Gina Reynolds, attorneys with the Arkansas Public Defender Commission in Little Rock who were appointed to represent Calamese, asked that Calamese be allowed to move to Arkadelphia where he will live with a relative and enroll in school.

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Boyce didn't object to the move, provided that Calamese contact a Jackson County sheriff's deputy each Monday and undergo drug testing.

State Desk on 08/04/2017

Print Headline: Boy, 16, claims mental defect in officer killing

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