CHUCK BARTELS Associated Press
March 14, 2014
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An Oklahoma man convicted in 2005 and sentenced to die for killing two women at a De Queen cemetery monument company asked the Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday to open the way for a new trial.
Lawyers for Mickey David Thomas, 39, told justices that Thomas’ trial attorney should have raised two issues and said he should get a new proceeding.
At trial, Thomas’ lawyers failed to object to the trial being moved to Pike County. Thomas, who is black, was prosecuted in a judicial district that includes Sevier County, where the killings occurred, and Howard, Little River and Pike counties.
Attorney Jeff Harrelson of Texarkana argued that Pike County has fewer African-American residents than Howard and Little River counties. Harrelson said Thomas’ attorney should have objected to the move or at least have asked the judge to supply findings of fact for why Pike County was the best choice.
“Mr. Thomas’ trial counsel was ineffective for not objecting to Pike County,” Harrelson said.
Harrelson also argued that introduction of evidence that Thomas had a condom and twine with him should have been countered by the defense. Harrelson said there was no indication there was a sexual component to the slayings of Mona Lee Shelton, 46, and Donna Marie Cary, 45, at the gravestone business.
Harrelson said a police officer or other official could have highlighted the distinction.
Assistant Attorney General Karen Wallace said the trial attorney was smart to have not drawn attention to the twine and condom, but Harrelson said Thomas’ defense should have made it clear to jurors that the items weren’t related to the killings.
Harrelson also had to show that there were unavoidable reasons for not filing all appeal documents on time. Wallace conceded the point, saying that having a co-counsel leave the case and the circuit judge recuse could not be avoided.
The killings took place on June 14, 2004, at Cornerstone Monuments, which was owned by Shelton.
Two days before, Geraldine Jones of Broken Bow, Okla., was slain, and prosecutors accused Thomas of the killing. A prosecutor said there was no point trying Thomas for Jones’ killing considering his Arkansas death sentence.
Before the Broken Bow slaying, Thomas was accused of robbing and fondling a woman at a Durant business on West Main Street. According to online court records, he was charged June 16, 2004, with robbery by force or fear and rape by instrumentation. That case has never been prosecuted although the charge has not been dismissed.
The high court will issue an opinion on Thomas’ appeal later.
- Durant Democrat Managing Editor Matt Swearengin contributed to this story