Monday, July 08, 2013

TOP STORY >> Murder defendant contests competency

Leader senior staff writer

The Cabot area woman charged with beating James Heath to death with a baseball bat last September is challenging a ruling that she is competent to stand trial.

Patrick Benca, attorney for Jeanne Rene Rollf, 40, will contest the May 1 finding that she is competent to stand trial, according to Deputy Prosecutor Barbara Mariana. The next hearing is set for Aug. 12 in the Fourth District Pulaski County Circuit Court with Judge Herbert Wright presiding.

Rollf has been in the Pulaski County Detention Center since her Oct. 12, 2012 arrest, in lieu of $1 million bond.

She is charged with the first-degree murder that happened at her north Pulaski County trailer. If convicted, Rollf could serve between 10 to 40 years in prison or life. She is also accused of abusing a corpse and tampering with evidence.

Her three co-defendants all pleaded guilty to reduced charges, contingent upon testimony against Rollf.

On May 1, John Posey, 36, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence, according to Mariana. He was sentenced to 20 years for murder and six years for each of the other charges, which will run concurrently for a total of 26 years. Posey is at the Ouachita River Correctional Unit with a scheduled release date of November 2022, according to Correction Department records.

Also on May 1, William Null, 25, pleaded guilty to abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence and was sentenced to six years on each count, to run consecutively.Null is at the East Arkansas Regional Correction Unit with a scheduled release date of January 2015.

Taylor Arnold, 20 at the time of his October arrest, pleaded guilty April 29 to abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence. He will be sentenced later, Mariana said.

Arnold is free on bond, she noted.

Arnold said in an affidavit that he was in another room of Rollf’s trailer when he heard Heath say, “No, Rene, no.” Arnold then told officers that he heard “two very loud thumps as if someone got hit with something.”

Arnold said he and Null walked out of the bedroom and saw Heath “lying in the hallway floor covered in blood and Rollf lying on top of him holding a baseball bat,” according to the affidavit.

Posey’s wife, who was also at the scene, said in an affidavit that Rollf told her, “I killed him.”
Arnold said his involvement was limited to digging the grave, helping clean the bloody trailer and helping carry Heath’s body on a door to that grave.