BENTONVILLE -- A circuit judge granted a defense attorney's request to postpone for six months the jury trial for a woman accused of killing a Pea Ridge police officer.
Shawna Cash, 23, of Pine Bluff is charged with capital murder, escape, fleeing, two counts of aggravated assault, leaving the scene of a personal injury accident, criminal mischief, obstructing governmental operations and reckless driving. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for her.
She's accused of killing officer Kevin Apple on June 26, 2021.
Her jury trial was scheduled to begin July 31. Her defense attorneys filed a motion seeking a delay in the trial. Prosecutors filed a response objecting to the delay.
Judge Brad Karren presided over a hearing Friday concerning the motion.
He said the court was in a difficult situation since the prosecutors say it's been two years since Apple's death and his family and the community want a resolution of the case, but he had to balance that with Cash's due process rights to ensure she receives a fair and impartial trial.
No one wants to try the case twice and Cash's attorneys need the time for her defense, Karren said.
Katherine Streett, one of Cash's attorneys, said the defense is trying to get additional records related to the case's penalty phase. Streett said the defense is trying to get records from the San Diego Police Department and will need the assistance of a California judge to get the information.
Joshua Robinson, senior deputy prosecutor, said he learned of an incident involving Cash that may be mitigating information for the defense. Robinson said he assisted with getting information and photographs from the San Diego police.
Neither Streett nor Robinson went into specific details about the information and the photographs.
Streett said the defense received 600 pages of records from the Arkansas Department of Human Services. She said there are over 100 names of people in the records the defense have to rule out as potential witnesses.
Streett said the defense is working on it, but it's taking a long time due to the amount of records.
Robinson said the victim's family and friends wanted the murder case tried. He suggested a September trial date if the judge granted the motion to delay the case.
If not September, Robinson said, "It may be another year."
Streett said a September trial may still be too soon for the defense. She was concerned about the number of people the defense needed to contact by September. Lee Short, Cash's other attorney, has another capital murder case set for trial in September, she said.
Streett also objected to Robinson using the word "murder." She said a jury determines whether a murder was committed.
"We are going to object to it each time he says it," Streett said.
Robinson said it's appropriate for him to use the word murder, just like it's appropriate for prosecutors to use the word "victim" in cases.
Karren denied Streett's request and said it's the prosecutors' theory that Apple was murdered and he's not going to prohibit prosecutors from using the word.
Karren said it's inappropriate for him as the judge to use the words "murder" or "victim" and that's why he uses the words "accuser" or "alleged victim."
Karren said there's no way he could try the case in September because of his case load.
Robinson is on Gustavo Peraza's capital murder case. The jury trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 29, but Robinson said it could be resolved short of a trial.
Peraza, 31, is accused of killing his former girlfriend's 2-year-old son. Robinson said Peraza's attorneys may need more time.
Karren scheduled Cash's trial to begin Jan. 29.
Apple and fellow Pea Ridge officer Brian Stamps responded to a call about 11:30 a.m. on June 26, 2021, to be on the lookout for a Jeep fleeing from Rogers police. They spotted the Jeep at the White Oak Station in Pea Ridge, according to a probable cause affidavit. Cash was in the driver's seat and Elijah Michael Andazola was a passenger, according to court documents.
The two officers parked on both ends of the Jeep, which was parked at the gas pumps, and attempted to speak with Cash and Andazola, according to the affidavit. Cash rammed one of the Pea Ridge police vehicles, then drove over Apple -- dragging him 149 feet -- and fled west on Slack Street, according to court documents.
Apple, 53, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Andazola, 20, is charged with accomplice to capital murder and escape. Prosecutors have waived the death penalty in his case.
Andazola's jury trial is scheduled to begin July 18, but it will be rescheduled since prosecutors want to try Cash first.
Cash and Andazola are both being held without bail in the Benton County Jail.