LITTLE ROCK — A divided Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the death sentence of a man convicted of killing of a Trumann police officer in 2011.

LITTLE ROCK — A divided Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the death sentence of a man convicted of killing of a Trumann police officer in 2011.


In a 5-2 decision, the high court rejected Jerry Lard’s arguments that he did not receive a fair trial.


Lard was convicted of capital murder in the shooting death of Officer Jonathan Schmidt after a traffic stop on April 12, 2011. He also was convicted of attempted capital murder and sentenced to life in prison for shooting at Schmidt’s partner, Sgt. Corey Overstreet.


A video camera from a police car captured audio of Schmidt pleading off-screen for his life before being shot. At Lard’s trial, his attorneys conceded that he shot Schmidt but argued that he should be found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.


Lard argued in his appeal that he did not receive a fair trial because of errors by the circuit judge, including allowing prosecutors to show jurors dash-cam videos of the shooting, not sequestering witnesses, allowing prosecutors to make remarks improper remarks during closing arguments and allowing evidence of his previous bad acts and bad character.


In a 32-page majority opinion, Justice Courtney Hudson Goodson said there was "overwhelming evidence of guilt" to uphold Lard’s conviction and that there was no evidence to suggest wrong doing by the judge or prosecutor.


"We find no abuse of discretion in the circuit court’s decision that the probative value of the various video recordings substantially outweighed the danger of unfair prejudice," the majority opinion said, adding that Circuit Judge Brent Davis’ decision to allow witness testimony that revealed Lard had outstanding warrants and had previously threatened to shoot police officers also was proper.


As for testimony by a jailer who said Lard lacked remorse for killing the officer, and testimony by a psychologist about Lard’s previous bad acts, including cruelty to animals at a young age, Goodson wrote that the circuit judge did not err by allowing the evidence.


The majority opinion did question the admission of photographs of a tattoo on Lard’s back that said, "Hell Bound," but said "we find no manifest abuse of discretion in the circuit court’s conclusion that the probative value of the photographs exceeded their prejudicial effect."


Joining Goodson in upholding Lard’s conviction and sentence were Justices Josephine Hart, Paul Danielson, Karen Baker and Cliff Hoofman.


In a dissenting opinion, Justice Donald Corbin said the trial judge should not have allowed evidence regarding statements made by Lard while in jail and awaiting trial, or photographs depicting the tattoo on his back.


"What disturbs me about the circuit court’s rulings … is that the circuit court, and now the majority on appeal, focuses almost exclusively on the fact that the evidence was relevant and fails to consider its prejudicial effects," Corbin wrote. "In other words, I believe the circuit court abused its discretion when it failed to analyze whether the evidence’s probative value was substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice."


Chief Justice Jim Hannah joined Corbin in the dissent.