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Man gets 25 years in prison for attack plot against convicted Bentonville rapist

by Tracy Neal | April 6, 2021 at 11:45 a.m.

BENTONVILLE -- A Missouri man was sentenced to 25 years in prison for his role in a plot to have a convicted rapist attacked in prison.

David Hightower, 38, of Carterville, Mo., pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiracy to commit battery. He pleaded guilty under an agreement presented to the court by Matt Reid, Hightower's attorney, and Brynna Barnica, deputy prosecutor.

Hightower and Leah Brasuell, 38, of Bella Vista were arrested last year in connection with solicitation to commit battery against Tristan Tiarks.

Tiarks, 34, of Bentonville was sentenced in February 2020 to 30 years in prison after a jury found him guilty of assaulting and raping a 3-year-old girl.

Benton County Sheriff's Office detectives began investigating last year a plot between Brasuell and Hightower to hurt Tiarks in retaliation for the crime, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Hightower was an inmate in the Benton County Jail, and detectives reviewed telephone calls and emails between Hightower and Brausell, according to the affidavit.

The two communicated about getting someone to attack Tiarks. Hightower gave Brasuell the name of another prisoner who could get to Tiarks. Brasuell told Hightower she would be willing to pay the prisoner, according to the affidavit. Hightower told Brasuell he would break every bone in Tiarks' face if the two were put in the same prison, the affidavit states.

Brasuell said she put money in Hightower's commissary and telephone accounts. She told the detective she never paid anyone to harm Tiarks, according to the affidavit.

Hightower told the detective he and Brasuell were friends and he offered to beat up Tiarks, but said he didn't receive any money from Brasuell to harm Tiarks, according to the affidavit.

Benton County Circuit Judge Christine Horwart accepted the plea agreement and Hightower's guilty plea.

Horwart sentenced Hightower to 25 years in the Arkansas Department of Correction. The judge ordered Hightower not to have any contact with Brasuell or Tiarks.

Brasuell is charged with battery/criminal solicitation. She has pleaded not guilty to the charge and is free on $25,000 bond. Her case has not been resolved. She was ordered not to have any contact with Tiarks.

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