Fort Smith woman gets 40 years for '19 murder

FORT SMITH -- A Fort Smith woman was sentenced Thursday in Sebastian County Circuit Court to 40 years in prison for first-degree murder.

Taylor Cynthia Elkins, 22, had entered a negotiated plea of guilty to the Class Y felony, according to a sentencing order provided by Prosecuting Attorney Dan Shue. Elkins appeared before Judge Stephen Tabor.

On either July 9 or July 10, William Dubois, Jr., 72, was beaten to death in his Fort Smith residence, according to the prosecutor's report and penitentiary synopsis. Dubois' body was sent to the state Crime Laboratory, which determined that Dubois died from multiple blunt force injuries in his head. There were 27 total impact sites, the report said.

Court documents said Elkins was located at a Fort Smith residence in possession of Dubois' vehicle and was transported to the Fort Smith Police Department.

Over the course of several days, Elkins gave inconsistent statements to police regarding her involvement in Dubois' death, according to documents. In one statement, Elkins said she came up with a plan to "rob" Dubois, with her knocking on his door and someone else referred to as "Joe" going inside to steal items. Two televisions from Dubois' home were placed in her vehicle and were later pawned at a shop in Fort Smith.

However, the document states that Elkins' grandfather lived next door to Dubois and told police that Elkins came to his home after leaving Dubois' residence and said she "knocked him in the head."

Elkins also told another inmate at the Sebastian County jail that she became angry while she was in Dubois' residence because he told her he didn't have any money, according to the document. The inmate said Elkins admitted to picking up a hammer and using it to attack Dubois, then throwing it out on the side of the road, the document said.

Elkins was charged with first-degree murder Oct. 9. She had been charged July 16 with hindering apprehension or prosecution and theft by receiving.

A probable-cause affidavit dated July 12 said police made contact with Elkins on July 11 in the 4400 block of Armour Avenue. At the time, police said, she had a red 2013 Ford Focus that belonged to Dubois.

Elkins gave inconsistent statements concerning how she obtained the vehicle, the affidavit said. She originally said a man gave her the car, but later said Dubois gave her the car in exchange for sexual favors.

Elkins was arraigned on the charges July 17, according to another release. A public defender was appointed to represent Elkins, and an innocent plea was originally entered on her behalf. Bail was set at $100,000 cash.

State Desk on 01/18/2020