BENTONVILLE -- A jury didn't believe a Benton County Jail inmate's claims he was defending himself when he hit another inmate several times requiring the man to undergo a surgical procedure.
It took the panel about 30 minutes Wednesday to find Stephen Pardue guilty of battery in the second degree and failure to appear. Pardue was charged as a habitual offender since he has four other felony convictions.
Pardue, 29, of Bentonville was accused of hitting Garrett Meyer several times while the two men were being held in the same pod in the Benton County Jail.
The jury later recommended Pardue serve six years in prison for the battery and four years for the failure to appear. The panel also recommended the sentences be served consecutively.
Pardue said he never intended on hurting Meyer. "I'm sorry this happened," Pardue said. "I hope he's all right."
Circuit Judge Brad Karren followed the jury's recommendation and sentenced Pardue to 10 years in prison.
Pardue was arrested in January 2017 in connection with striking Meyer.
According to court documents, Meyer told a sheriff's deputy he and Pardue were once roommates and Pardue was upset because he believed Meyer stole from him when the two lived together, according to a probable cause affidavit.
Meyer, who was carrying a food tray, was walking up the stairs when Pardue approached him and repeatedly punched him, according to the affidavit. The punches broke Meyer's jaw. The jury watched a video recording of the incident captured by a camera in the jail.
Joshua Robinson, deputy prosecutor, told jurors Meyer had to undergo surgery and his jaw was wired shut for four weeks. A metal plate and screw had to be placed into Meyer's jaw, Robinson said.
Robinson told jurors they watched the video and could see there was nothing about self-defense in Pardue's actions.
Janette McKinney, one of Pardue's attorneys said her client believed he needed to defend himself and he believed Meyer could have used the food tray as a weapon.
McKinney said the two were in a jail environment where there is "a pray or prey relationships." McKinney said it was on her client's mind when he saw Meyer walking up the stairs with the tray.
"He's not a predator, but (Pardue) made the decision that he was not going to be the prey," McKinney said.
McKinney said just because a person is in jail it doesn't mean he loses the ability to stand up for himself.
Jong Shin, deputy prosecutor, described Pardue as the predator and Meyer as the prey.
Shin told jurors that Pardue struck Meyer six times.
"I agree Stephen was protecting something," Shin said. "He was protecting his ego, his pride and his status as a predator in that jail."
Pardue received 309 days of jail credit for the time he spent in jail awaiting his trial.
Pardue must pay $620 in court associated costs and he must also pay $8,511.17 in victim restitution.
Shin said he and Robinson want to thank the jury for wrestling with some tough legal issues and reaching a verdict in the case. "We felt it was important to try this case because everyone deserves the protection of the law," Shin said.
NW News on 01/18/2018
Print Headline: Jail beating nets 10 year prison sentence