LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Parole Board said Tuesday it has recommended to the governor that a state prison inmate’s 1988 life-without-parole sentence for killing a North Little Rock man be commuted to 27 years in prison.
James Timothy Carmichael was convicted of capital murder in 1987 in the death Eric Marsh. He was convicted of shooting Marsh in the driveway of his home.
The five-member parole board unanimously recommended to Gov. Mike Beebe that he commute Carmichael’s sentence.
Parole Board member Rick Mays wrote that there were “numerous supporters, at least 30” present at Carmichael’s executive clemency hearing, including Chris Piazza, who was Pulaski County prosecutor at the time Carmichael was convicted, and Pulaski County Circuit Judge John Plegge.
Pulaski County Sheriff Doc Holladay objected to Carmichael’s commutation request.
Gov. Mike Beebe has 30 days to review Carmichael’s request and the Parole Board’s recommendation before making a decision.
In his application, Carmichael, 50, said he met Marsh’s wife at a bar and they later drove back to her home, where they smoked marijuana in the driveway “and were fooling around when I heard a noise inside the house.”
“When we looked and saw a man going past a window, I asked who it was and (she) said ‘my husband,’” Carmichael wrote in his application.
He said he tried to get back into his car and drive off, but was attacked from behind by Eric Marsh who threatened to kill him as Marsh’s wife claimed she had been assaulted.
Carmichael said Eric Marsh choked him from behind and he reached for a pistol he remembered was in his car.
“I thought if Mr. Marsh felt (the pistol) against his side he would let go of me, but he did not,” Carmichael wrote. “I thought if I just wounded him in his side with the pistol he would break his hold. I know all this happened in just a minute or so, but at the time every second seemed like a minute.”
While Eric Marsh continued choking him, Carmichael said he felt the pistol touching Marsh’s side and he fired, adding that “Mr. Marsh broke his hold and ran past the rear of my car toward his house.”
Carmichael said he quickly fled the scene in his car and did not know how serious Marsh’s injury was.
The following day, after learning of Marsh’s death, he called his attorney and the two of them went to the North Little Rock police station.
“There is no words to express or explain my regret of the events of that night,” Carmichael wrote. “There is only the sorrow of knowing and living with the fact that even though it was an accident, a life was lost by my hand. There is also the sorrow of knowing so many lives have been hurt by it too.”
Carmichael wrote in his application that during 24 years in prison he has worked and trained as a dental assistant in the prison’s dental clinic. He also has worked in a shop designing art work, setting up silk screens to be printed on signs and cards.
He also has volunteered in the prison’s chapel and volunteered in the Pal Program, which promotes personal responsibility and, integrity.