Tuesday, March 25, 2014

EDITORIAL >> Parole system enables crime

Stephen Thomas Miller of Cabot was stabbed to death earlier this month after he got into a fight with a couple at a local bar. Miller, who was only 28, apparently exchanged some nasty words with a parolee named Arthur Lockhart Jr. of Searcy and his wife, Tere.

Miller, who was white, and the Lockharts, who are black, must have exchanged some heated words early Sunday morning after a night out at The Hangar bar off Hwy. 67/167 in Jacksonville. They stepped into the parking lot, where Miller supposedly hurled the n-word at Mrs. Lockhart.

Miller probably had no way of knowing that Arthur Lockhart was a habitual criminal who had been in and out of prison thanks to Arkansas’ generous parole system.

Lockhart, 35, was out on parole the morning Miller was killed in March. In 2005, Lockhart was sentenced to 26 years in prison for aggravated assault and possession of firearms.

He obviously didn’t serve anything close to his sentence because, in 2011 — just six years after his conviction — Lockhart was found guilty of felony possession of a controlled substance, felony tampering with evidence and misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance.

He was sentenced to 45 months for the more recent drug charges, but there he was out drinking with his wife on the night of the stabbing.

Lockhart was also sentenced in 1995 to six years for second-degree battery and robbery.

In 1998, Lockhart was sentenced to six years for possession of a controlled substance with purpose to manufacture or deliver.

Lockhart has several tattoos, including one that says “nigga.”

The Lockharts have pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in Jacksonville District Court, even though Arthur Lockhart allegedly confessed to the killing.

He has also been charged with tampering with evidence because he allegedly threw a knife onto the roof of the bar after the stabbing.

The Lockharts are being held at the Pulaski County jail with a $250,000 bond for Arthur Lockhart and a $100,000 bond for his wife.