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Bella Vista man pleads not guilty of capital murder

by Tracy Neal | June 21, 2021 at 12:50 p.m.
Zachary Avans

BENTONVILLE -- A Bella Vista man pleaded not guilty to capital murder and aggravated residential burglary in the shooting death of Bryon Keith Blackmon.

Zachary Avans, 22, appeared in court Monday for his arraignment. An omnibus hearing is set for 8 a.m. Aug. 5.

Blackmon, 30, was found shot April 27 on Northwest Fifth Street. He died at Northwest Medical Center in Bentonville.

Shannon Schmidt told police he and Avans are friends, and he had been trying to help Avans obtain his identification, including his power of attorney to cash checks, according to the affidavit.

Schmidt said Avans asked him to drive him April 27 to a Bentonville address to visit a friend about a stimulus check. Avans was having financial troubles after giving a friend power of attorney in order for the friend to collect bail money and get Avans out of jail, according to the affidavit.

The friend obtained Avans' stimulus check, but failed to bail him out of jail, according to the affidavit.

Schmidt said he drove Avans to Bentonville, and Avans asked him to drive around for a while and then come back to pick him up. Schmidt said he drove around the area and picked up Avans near Northwest B Street, according to the affidavit.

Schmidt told police Avans burned the shirt he had been wearing in a fire pit when they returned to Schmidt's home, according to the affidavit.

A neighbor of Blackmon's heard Blackmon yelling for help and found him lying in the street, according to the affidavit.

Avans could be sentenced to life imprisonment or the death penalty if convicted of the murder charge. The burglary charge is punishable with a prison sentence ranging from 10 to 40 years or life imprisonment.

Benton County Circuit Judge Robin Green wanted to know whether prosecutors had reached a decision on the death penalty.

"We've not made that decision yet judge," answered Joshua Robinson, deputy prosecutor.

Avans is being held without bond in the Benton County Jail.

Print Headline: Man pleads not guilty in murder case

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