Today's Paper Newsletters LEARNS Guide Asa Hutchinson 2024 Today's Photos Public Notices Crime Distribution Locations Obits Puzzles Digital FAQ Razorback Sports

Judge throws out evidence in Little Rock murder case over search warrant errors

Judge faults warrant in home search by John Lynch | June 10, 2023 at 7:21 a.m.
FILE - The Pulaski County courthouse in downtown Little Rock is shown in this 2019 file photo.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Karen Whatley has thrown out the evidence seized from the home and person of a Little Rock murder suspect because of an error-ridden search warrant.

Whatley's Thursday ruling comes about three weeks before 53-year-old Yahchanan Anthony Makavelli stands trial on a second-degree murder charge over accusations he fatally stabbed Nicholas Deandre Hampton of Pine Bluff during an April 2022 encounter on South Schiller Street.

Makavelli's attorney, Leslie Borgognoni, had attacked the warrant as lacking supporting evidence to justify the search of Makavelli's home, where Little Rock police seized guns, or the collection of his DNA. The guns had formed the basis for a firearm charge against Makavelli, who is a felon barred from having guns.

Whatley told the sides last month that she was skeptical the warrants could survive judicial scrutiny after concluding a hearing centered on the testimony of Oscar Gomez, the Little Rock police officer who prepared the warrants and oversaw the search and evidence collection.

Whatley concluded the mistakes were human error and not any deliberate wrongdoing by Gomez or District Judge Melanie Martin who signed off on it the night of the slaying.

Whatley had taken the issue under advisement for further study after deputy prosecutor Justin Brown argued that she did not have to throw out evidence under the exclusionary rule, the Fourth Amendment-based doctrine involving government searches and seizures. The rule is to deter bad behavior by authorities but with the judge's decision that the mistakes were not deliberate, there's not reason to punish authorities, Brown said.

The murder case against Makavelli stems largely from witness accounts, one of whom is said to have seen him stab Hampton. A second witness reported seeing him at the scene and hearing his voice.

According to police reports and court filings, police were called to the South Schiller home of 53-year-old Margaret Boles, who reported that a man with an assault rifle had "jumped on" her daughter, Vallesha Boles, 32, injuring the younger woman. Police arrived to find Hampton dead in the doorway of the home, with three stab wounds in his back, among other cuts. Hampton matched the description of the reported assailant.

His sister, Nakeisha Hampton, 32, told police that she had seen her brother in a fight, stating that she had broken up the altercation but did not immediately realize he had been stabbed.

The Hampton siblings' mother, 55-year-old Domonique Hampton, said her son called out to get help because "they stabbed me. I'm going to die." She told police she further saw her neighbor, whom she knew as "13," walking away and heard him saying something about trying to protect a girl from an assailant. Her 10-year-old granddaughter told police she saw 13 stab Hampton three times, describing how he then lay on the ground and stopped breathing.

Boles told police she and Hampton had an argument that escalated into a fight but that no one else was involved in the struggle and she didn't see who broke it up. She said she didn't notice Hampton had been stabbed until she saw the blood and noticed him in the doorway.

Police determined 13 to be Makavelli. He told investigators that he had seen Nicholas Hampton assaulting Vallesha Boles, stating that he went inside his apartment and called 911 to report it. Police could not find any records to show that he had called. Makavelli was arrested that same night and has been jailed ever since.

Court records show that Makavelli, born Mark Anthony Baker, has a criminal record dating back to 1987, with convictions for robbery, residential burglary, second-degree battery and aggravated assault. He's also currently facing a charge of possession of a controlled substance and being a felon with a firearm stemming from a February 2021 arrest in North Little Rock.

Print Headline: Evidence thrown out in murder case


Sponsor Content