LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the attempted capital murder and kidnapping convictions of a man who stabbed a Fort Smith police detective in 2010.
In a 5-2 decision, the state’s top court rejected an appeal by Elvis Aaron Thacker, 28, who is serving a 30-year prison sentence in the case. Thacker also has been sentenced in Oklahoma to life in prison without possibility of parole for first-degree murder and forcible sodomy in the 2010 slaying of Briana Ault.
Plainclothes officers from Fort Smith and Oklahoma went to a Fort Smith apartment on Sept. 15, 2010, and were attempting to arrest Thacker on a rape warrant in connection with an alleged rape in Fort Smith when Thacker stabbed detective James Melson in the neck. Detective Mike McCoy then shocked Thacker with a stun gun, and after the stun gun failed to subdue Thacker, detective Jeff Carter shot Thacker twice.
Thacker later pleaded guilty to attempted capital murder and kidnapping, the latter charge replacing an initial rape charge. Prosecutors said Thacker used a knife to restrain a Fort Smith woman against her will.
In 2012, Sebastian County Circuit Judge Michael Fitzhugh rejected an appeal by Thacker. The Supreme Court upheld Fitzhugh’s ruling Thursday.
Thacker argued that a video from McCoy’s stun gun and a video from officer Eric Williams’ body camera were improperly withheld from his lawyer by prosecutors. Thacker claimed the videos would have supported a claim that he acted in self-defense.
In its majority opinion Thursday, the Supreme Court said Thacker did not show that the videos would have changed the outcome of the case because neither captured the stabbing. The video from the stun gun captured seven seconds before officers entered the apartment, and the video from Williams’ body camera captured the scene Williams found when he entered the apartment after Thacker was shot, the court said.
The Supreme Court also rejected an argument by Thacker that his guilty pleas were coerced.
“Thacker’s four-year delay in bringing this claim, coupled with the lack of factual substantiation for his allegations, renders his claims of a coerced guilty plea deficient and unpersuasive,” the court said in an opinion written by Justice Rhonda Wood.
Thacker also argued that he was innocent. The Supreme Court said Thursday that Fitzhugh never ruled on that issue, so there was no ruling for it to review.
Justice Josephine Hart said in a dissenting opinion the video from the stun gun would have supported Thacker’s claim that when he stabbed Melson he thought he was defending himself against a home invasion and therefore acting in self-defense. The video shows that the officers were in plainclothes, she wrote.
Justice Paul Danielson joined in the dissent.