On January 5, 2018, a Reply to State’s Response to the Motion for the Lonoke County Prosecutor’s Office to Recuse was filed with the Court. We are seeking an unbiased approach to justice and do not believe that to be possible as long as Larry Cook is part of the Lonoke political tapestry. COOK is currently the Lonoke County Public Defender, sitting opposite the legal aisle he occupied twenty years ago.
We are not alone in this assessment, far from alone. Honestly, there are too many who agree, but most are rendered bystanders and/or accomplices due to their silence, ignorance, or being unaware of the happenings around them and, in that capacity, each stands to be a contributor and/or enabler to the problem. Ignorance can be bliss unless you’re a man hanging in a judicial balance.
COOK wasn’t the only player in HEATH’s conviction; many had their hands in the pot, stirring madly. HEATH’s attorneys, MAC Carder and EDGAR Thompson didn’t play well with others – they didn’t get along with each other. There is no denying HEATH failed to assist in his own defense, for the most part, but the assistance he did offer was a plea for help which either fell on deaf ears, hardened hearts or fearful subjects, whose alliances were to others; a self-preservation of sorts.
This piece, a timeline of sorts, although lengthy, attempts to open a window and allow a peek behind the curtain of a complex (by nature) veneer we call truth and justice. The facts, with interjected commentary, are linked to documentation.
From 1993 to 1998, COOK was the Prosecuting Attorney for Lonoke County, Arkansas, not to rerun for election, but returning to private practice. In the capacity of Lonoke County PA, he was connected to the investigation into the claims of sexual assault by DOUG Hogan, a 16-year-old boy from the neighboring town of Carlisle, Arkansas, on the night of December 29, 1992, by scoutmaster, Jack WALLS.
The investigation by the Department of Human Services (DHS) was botched from the beginning and remained such until the end and, even then, reaching beyond its scope. The investigation comprised of the following allegations:
- That the 1993 investigation of allegations made by Doug Hogan against Jack WALLS III was not done in a timely manner.
- That the 1993 DCFS investigation of allegations against Jack WALLS III did not reach an accurate result.
- That the problems with the 1993 investigation were the DIRECT RESULT OF THE POLITICAL INFLUENCE OF JACK WALLS’ FATHER, JUDGE JACK WALLS, JR. [emphasis added]
On October 8, 1993, the State Police’s investigation into the HOGAN matter was closed by COOK, who “determined that the actions of the suspect (WALLS) in [this] case [did] not constitute a crime.” Upon inquiry, neither the investigator (Sgt. Rainbolt) nor COOK would make a public statement regarding the closing of the case.
November 18, 1993, CLEDIS Hogan (father of accuser, DOUG Hogan), after receiving no assistance by the DHS nor the Lonoke County Prosecutors office (COOK) and Lonoke Police Department, persuades a Carlisle Municipal Judge to sign two warrants against WALLS for 3rd-degree assault and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Both charges were misdemeanors.
November 30, 1993 – A person listed only as “WALLS” on the form requested and received a copy of the Arkansas Department of Human Service’s (ADHS) investigative file in the Hogan case.
“[Joe] Quinn [ADHS spokesperson] said it is against state law for anyone to obtain a copy of a Human Services Department Investigation. ‘This is the last bastion of where children are protected. Those reports are confidential, and no one by Arkansas law can get them,” he said.
On April 8, 1994, Jack WALLS is found innocent of the charges in Carlisle County. Municipal Court Judge Gary Rogers, brought in from Hazen, Arkansas, presided. Angela Alexander, Deputy Prosecutor from COOK’s office, prosecuted the case.
How is this possible? “No comment” by all asked. Bill Fletcher, former State Rep., appeared on WALLS’ behalf along with Charlie & Karen Knox. The court session lasted only 3 hours.
Is it possible that COOK’s extension, Angela Alexander’s, less than stellar job was intentional, allowing Jack to be found innocent? In fact, the charges Alexander brought against WALLS allowed for only one outcome – Jack would be found innocent.
The judge who presided over the Hogan matter in Carlisle Municipal Court was Judge Gary Rogers who, at the close of the case stated, “Whether there were sexual advances or not, the court today is not here to decide that, because that was not the charge before the court.” Additionally, Roger declared, “I personally believe that there may be other charges that may [have] been filed, but weren’t…I’m not making any determination of whether there were sexual advances or not. That, again, was not before the court.”
Two weeks later, on April 29, 1994, a Walls’ Deposition Hogan Civil Suit COMPLETE, in the Hogan civil suit raised a number of inconsistencies, resulting in a significant out-of-court, monetary settlement for the Hogans.
April 27, 1994, per the State of Arkansas Secretary of State Ethics Division Alexander Contribution of candidate Larry Cook, Hubert Alexander of Jacksonville, Arkansas. ALEXANDER would represent WALLS in his 1997 rape charges.
October 1994 – Charles A. Walls, Jr. is appointed new circuit/chancery judge by then Gov. Jim Guy Tucker. (Walls, Jr. serves from Jan. 95 thru Dec. 96)
January 19, 1997, HANSHAW signs an Affidavit for the arrest of HEATH by Mark Hollingsworth.
January 21, 1997, Edgar hired as HEATH’S public defender.
January 23, 1997, Mac is appointed as co-counsel to assist defense attorney EDGAR due to the fact that EDGAR was not death penalty certified and MAC was. LANCE Womack assists MAC, as does attorney Elizabeth Johnston (“BETSY”). None aware at that time COOK’s intentions regarding HEATH’S possible punishment.
MAC immediately expresses his thoughts and concerns regarding a gag order being put into place, especially after “channel 4 running the client’s ‘confession’” on the nightly broadcasts. EDGAR informs MAC that the “judge and sheriff were going to view the tape that the sheriff had compiled and make a determination of what to do about this.” EDGAR tells MAC that HANSHAW didn’t want to sign an order.
One must ask…who would a gag order benefit, who would it not? Does a judge have that discretion?
One day later, on January 24, 1997, MAC files and hand-delivers a proposed Order to the prosecutor and the Court requesting a gag order. MAC gives three versions of the proposed Order and asks HANSHAW if a hearing would be required to which HANSHAW states no. This Order for Control of Publicity (gag order) was not signed by HANSHAW for almost two months, not until March 20, 1997.
January 31, 1997, MAC is informed by LANCE that EDGAR was trying to get in touch with him on Wednesday, January 29 and that EDGAR also called back on Thursday, January 30, and was wondering why MAC had not called him back.
According to a Memo to the File, MAC states that he had hearings on Thursday and Friday and was out of the office sick on Wednesday night. He called EDGAR’s office at 8 a.m. on Friday, January 31, and spoke with SARA Talbert (paralegal for Edgar Thompson), telling her that MAC and LANCE tried to call EDGAR’s office on Monday and Thursday but that they got no answer. MAC called EDGAR back after a hearing he attended in Hampton and EDGAR began immediately berating him and LANCE for “messing up all the work he had done on the case;” specifically accusing LANCE of going to Lonoke and being rude to HEATH’s family.
MAC informed EDGAR that LANCE had not been to see the family yet. EDGAR did not believe MAC. He continued to tell EDGAR that his office was trying to keep him informed of what was going on but had trouble reaching him because on three occasions they could not get an answering machine at EDGAR’s office. EDGAR told MAC that they had not called because they had caller ID and their number was not reflected on it. MAC tried to explain why he hadn’t called him back on Wednesday and Thursday because he didn’t receive the message until Friday due to being out of town on other cases. EDGAR told MAC he had other cases as well.
Eventually, they came to an understanding that they needed to work together and he told him that he would advise him of all MAC’S office’s doings on the case and EDGAR’s office to do the same.
MAC notes in the memo that his office had numerous instances documented where EDGAR had been rude to MAC’s staff and that it is obvious EDGAR resented MAC’s office for being lead counsel on two capital murder cases in his county. In addition, he states that HANSHAW as well had had words against MAC’s office.
In this conversation with EDGAR on Jan. 31, EDGAR said that he and HANSHAW had “had enough of the Arkansas public defender commission and that they were through with us.” MAC reminds EDGAR that HANSHAW had appointed his office to two cases.
Finally, MAC states that EDGAR informed him that the “Stocks kid was faking and that he and the judge thought the kid was a cold-blooded murderer.” EDGAR proceeds to describe to MAC a statement about what “the kid” supposedly told him when MAC changed the subject because they “were on a soft cell line.”
Did MAC truly believe their calls were being monitored? By whom, COOK’s office? Does this imply MAC didn’t trust COOK? In addition, let’s be reminded that the Code of Conduct for United States Judges, adopted by the Judicial Conference on April 5, 1973, states in part:
Canon 2A. An appearance of impropriety occurs when reasonable minds, with knowledge of all the relevant circumstances disclosed by a reasonable inquiry, would conclude that the judge’s honesty, integrity, impartiality, temperament, or fitness to serve as a judge is impaired. Public confidence in the judiciary is eroded by irresponsible or improper conduct by judges. A judge must avoid all impropriety and appearance of impropriety. This prohibition applies to both professional and personal conduct. A judge must expect to be the subject of constant public scrutiny and accept freely and willingly restrictions that might be viewed as burdensome by the ordinary citizen. Because it is not practicable to list all prohibited acts, the prohibition is necessarily cast in general terms that extend to conduct by judges that is harmful although not specifically mentioned in the Code. Actual improprieties under this standard include violations of law, court rules, or other specific provisions of this Code.
A cold-blooded killer; considered as such by HEATH’s own defense counsel and the Judge overseeing his case – an appearance of impropriety? Bias?
February 3, 1997, MAC receives a call back from SARA, informing her that she was going to call Billy Burris of the State Hospital and request that HEATH’s evaluation be expedited. MAC asks her why she would want to do that and SARA replied that she wasn’t sure why but the “judge wanted her to.” MAC informs SARA that they did not want to get in a hurry to try the case as there is much mitigation to discover if the PA is going for the death penalty.
SARA asked MAC, during this call, what the name was of the psychiatrist MAC sent down for the initial interview with HEATH. SARA went on to say that the client (HEATH) was trying to “snow” MAC into thinking that he was all upset and that actually, the client was faking. MAC tells SARA that he is not qualified to make that determination and that they cannot assume things and must rely on their experts to give the facts and any diagnosis.
Edgar’s office reiterating the fake client label is more bothersome than it appears on the surface. From the beginning of his representation of Heath until the conclusion, it is assumed that EDGAR met with Heath face to face two times, three at the most yet such judgment is easily suggested and spread. To what extent, one has to question.
MAC attempted to explain to SARA the mitigation, investigation, and work that must go into a death penalty case in order to prepare for an adequate defense. She told MAC that the prosecutor was not going to make a determination of whether or not he was seeking the death penalty until the file was put together.
Still no decision regarding what punishment is being sought and no gag order controlling the talk.
February 3, 1997, MAC learns that HANSHAW has not signed the gag order and he reluctantly ask for a hearing in order to make a record of HANSHAW’s refusal should a request in change of venue needs to be made. A call was made to COOK inquiring if the situation can be taken care of without a hearing.
MAC reminds EDGAR the importance of keeping options open since a decision on the death penalty had yet to be made. MAC reiterates his conversation with SARA from the day before wherein he expresses his concern in expediting HEATH’s mental evaluation; all mitigation must be considered.
Should COOK waive the death penalty, all would essentially be moot, and the Commission would be removed from the case, allowing for EDGAR to proceed as he wished. Until then, MAC states, “we cannot afford any type of infighting within our team which may jeopardize the representation of our client.”
February 4, 1997, MAC sends a letter to Edgar advising him of the situation with the gag order, recalling the events leading up to the current situation. Eleven days – no gag order in place.
February 5, 1997, MAC drafts a memo to LANCE and BETTY stating:
“Be careful to reduce to writing all contact made with co-counsel, EDGAR Thompson and his assistant, SARA (date it, time it, file it). Make notes of all phone calls and any actions that has to do with this case so that we can apprise them of the way we screw up capital murder cases and generally just sit around here on our asses doing nothing. Thank you.”
February 6, 1997, MAC talked with COOK about the gag order (proposed on January 24). According to MAC, COOK will take the order MAC sent to him Tuesday to see if the judge will sign it in the morning. If the judge wants MAC’s office to sign off on it, then they will do so. MAC informs his office of the situation and asked BETSY that, if she were not in the office, to make sure a lawyer is there to sign the order in the case it was faxed to MAC’s office. The hearing for the gag order was set for Tuesday, but COOK said he would reset it for February 18th, if HANSHAW would not sign the order.
Twelve days after MAC files a motion for a gag order, in a small town just over 4,000 people, regarding a triple homicide, COOK allows “talk”. People talk, especially in small towns where everyone knows everyone. This order should have been signed immediately; each day unsigned allows for rumors, speculation, and the possibility of both adversely affecting the case. Can a reason not to sign be fathomed?
February 7, 1997, Edgar sends a letter to Mac memorializing a meeting held at the Concord Methodist Church where people gathered to discuss what happened and why. EDGAR took notes of information given by those in attendance who spoke up. Keith Anthony, a college friend of HEATH, mentioned information regarding HEATH and JACKS’s relationship and how JACK was training HEATH to be an assassin. EDGAR asked Keith for clarification if he meant Jack Walls, Keith said yes. EDGAR stated, “Jack Walls?” HEATH’s grandfather, Martin Stocks, chimed in, “No, he is sitting beside you, he wouldn’t do anything like that.” Strangely and without explanation, this information was not conveyed to MAC, the notes void of such statement. (Affidavit of Keith Anthony with Exhibits redacted). (Keith fax to Mac re church mtg)
February 11, 1997, at approximately 4:30 p.m., LANCE and MAC went to the forensic unit to meet with Dr. Kittrell. MAC tells him that he is not trying to circumvent HANSHAW’s orders, but that HEATH was not discussing the events specific to the incident due to the fact that MAC’s office only had a small portion of the file.
MAC further stated that he would probably advise HEATH to cooperate fully in order to get a complete evaluation and normally they would, by this time, have the complete file for months.
Dr. Kittrell stated that he was “amazed” that HEATH got in that quick. Dr. Kittrell further commented that he was under a court order and could not promise anything but that “they would not push the evaluation this week”. He also said that he knew Billy Burris had spoken with someone on February 11 (judge or prosecutor?). Kittrell allowed MAC and LANCE to peruse the file COOK had sent and, according to MAC, there seemed to be a difference in the times of the Hollingsworth Statement that Dr. Kittrell had and the one that MAC had (referring to Hollingsworth interrogation of HEATH). Dr. Kittrell advised MAC and LANCE that HEATH had been interviewed and observed by him, Dr. Anderson, Marla Gergley, and the nursing staff.
At approximately 5:15 p.m. MAC and LANCE met with HEATH who appeared stronger than when they earlier met with him. He was “very confident and composed” and said the “guards and nurses were talking about him flying” and that they “weren’t treating him the best in the west.” HEATH stated that everyone was asking him questions.
MAC told HEATH that this was not “summer camp” and he had to comply with their rules, but to talk to NO ONE (nurses, guards, patients, etc.) about his case.
February 19, 1997, BETSY drafts a memo to MAC regarding a phone conversation she had with Judge HANSHAW. She inquired about rescheduling the hearing originally set for February 13, which was snowed out. Defense wanted to take up their motion to compel discovery from COOK and stop the State Hospital evaluation until said discovery was received. HANSHAW’s position was as follows:
- The hearing was only “tentatively set” for February 13 at 11:00. However, HANSHAW couldn’t hold the hearing at that time because HEATH would need to be present and he couldn’t attend due to his being at the State Hospital and all proceedings had been “stayed” until the State Hospital issued its report to the Court.
(This is absurd, HEATH would not need to attend a hearing wherein a motion to compel discovery was sought. The defense simply needed the discovery of the PA’s office, which is necessary whether HEATH was being evaluated or not, acquiring discovery is essential/mandatory. In such hearings, the judge simply demands the party that is not complying with rules of discovery to comply or be held in contempt. There simply is no use for a client’s appearance.)
- The Judge felt that whatever issue the defense was having in gathering discovery from the PA, is “purely [an] honest mistake” as the PA is getting the file from the State Police in pieces, COOK’s office is understaffed, and HEATH’s case is not the only case the PA has. HANSHAW suggested that if the defense was missing something, they should call COOK’s office and simply ask for it and it would be sent to them ASAP.
(Had COOK’s office responded to any discovery requests, there would have not been a motion to compel COOK to do so. The judge is simply not using his discretion in mandating COOK to comply but, rather, placing the burden upon MAC’s office. One has to question bias on behalf of Judge HANSHAW.)
- HANSHAW wants the State Hospital to continue the evaluation, not because it’s a matter of defense strategy but done in the interest of justice. Had EDGAR not moved for the evaluation, HANSHAW would have ordered one on his own. Since HEATH hadn’t been found fit to proceed, a defense couldn’t be formulated. BETSY pointed out to HANSHAW that the defense was interested in more than just HEATH being fit to proceed or not, discovery was crucial. Whether or not HEATH cooperated with the evaluation could seriously affect the efficacy of the evaluation especially since, as things stood, the possibility of the death penalty being sought was still on the table. HANSHAW was unconvinced, stating that HEATH’s evaluation was something that was done in the interest of justice and that it was something the Court had an interest in seeing that it was done properly, and quickly. Finally, HANSHAW believes the State Hospital can perform its evaluation whether HEATH cooperates with them or not.
- HANSHAW resents “Mr. MAC’s” claim that the Judge has been calling the State Hospital to hurry up HEATH’s evaluation. BETSY tried to explain that this wasn’t their claim, but the PA doing it and stating “just gotten off the phone with the Judge. . . etc.” HANSHAW explained that the reason HEATH was sent to the ASH so quickly was out of concern for his well-being, considering the alleged facts of the case, the way HEATH looked and acted at his first appearance. He recognized the fact defense had their own psychiatrist to see HEATH. “In fact, the Judge said that that’s why he called the Sheriff and had HEATH placed on suicide watch.”
It’s important to note that in point #3 of HANSHAW’s position regarding HEATH’s evaluation, he states the Court has an interest in “seeing that it was done properly, and QUICKLY, yet in point #4, he makes issue with MAC’s office claiming HANSHAW was trying to “hurry up” HEATH’s evaluation, yet explains the reason HEATH was “sent to the ASH so quickly.” Anyone else confused? Don’t say I’m hurrying but I’m hurrying and this is why…
February 20, 1997, LANCE handwrites a memo to the file wherein he states he had a long talk with SARA. He says she was friendly and talkative. LANCE asked her if they had all the PA’s responses and she said they had whatever MAC had sent to them. LANCE asked SARA if their office had been in touch with Dorothy. SARA said that EDGAR had talked with her but she was unsure as to when. LANCE told SARA that Dorothy had suggested the family write letters to give to COOK, asking him not to seek the death penalty. SARA believed she had heard that from either MAC or EDGAR. LANCE asked SARA if she would allow MAC to relay that to COOK’s office and she said ok.
SARA tells LANCE that she had known “Larry” since he was 10 years old and she “did not think he was going to seek death in HEATH’s case” but would in Jason’s case (another independent matter). (Today, SARA Talbert is a paralegal in the Lonoke County Public Defender’s Office. The Public Defender is Larry COOK.)
February 24, 1997 – BETSY and LANCE meet with HEATH.
February 25, 1997 – LANCE hand writes a memo to the file. He stated that he and BETSY visited HEATH at the Lonoke County jail and discussed the supposed escape attempt. LANCE stated that HEATH was a little upset because MAC had told him to go ahead and cooperate with ASH for the evaluation and then EDGAR came out and told HEATH not to talk.
Cooperate – don’t cooperate. The defense team can’t agree on HEATH’s defense, he’s left wondering what to do, who to listen to, etc.
Wednesday, February 26, 1997, BETSY drafts memo to MAC/file. She states that a complete account of the conversation with HEATH during their Feb. 24th visit can be found in LANCE’s memo of February 25, 1997.
BETSY continues by saying that after they returned from Lonoke, LANCE called the State Hospital (ASH) to get copies of the reports of the alleged escape attempt by HEATH. Bobby Hankins, chief of Public Safety at ASH advised that he had planned to go to Lonoke to talk to HEATH about what happened. BETSY informs Hankins that one of HEATH’s attorneys would have to be present when they talked but that such a meeting would not be arranged until they had a complete copy of the investigation.
BETSY states that she called EDGAR to make sure he knew what was going on (escape attempt). EDGAR had already spoken with Hankins and pretty much agreed with all Hankins said. EDGAR offered, if needed, to be present when they talked. EDGAR further states to BETSY that he had a “buddy” that would work on the UAMS police, so if they needed something, he might be able to help.
LANCE spoke with HEATH on Tuesday a.m. and advised him not to talk to Hankins without MAC’s office or EDGAR present.
BETSY finishes her memo to the MAC/file by stating she spoke with SARA to give her the name of the ASH Public Safety Chief, Bobby Hankins, and to have her “buddies over at the jail” keep their eyes out for Hankins trying to talk to HEATH, just in case. LANCE had since spoken with Hankins again, who indicated he really may not even need to talk to HEATH since “everyone was saying pretty much the same thing.” Hankins declined to tell LANCE what everyone was saying so MAC’s office still didn’t know what the ASH Chief thinks happened.
March 11, 1997, LANCE writes a note detailing the following:
EDGAR told HEATH (according to HEATH) somewhere in the 40-year range due to defendant’s age and how close he was to family, etc. According to HEATH, EDGAR has been saying that for “awhile”). EDGAR told HEATH he would probably have 3 possibilities: LWOP, L w/parole or 40 years with parole.
Sheriff told HEATH that COOK calls the sheriff and asks sheriff what he thought – sheriff will back up whatever COOK does. Sheriff is trying to be HEATH’s friend, according to HEATH.
February 24, 1997, BETSY spoke on the phone with EDGAR inquiring about his feel for what’s going to happen with HEATH. His response:
HANSHAW and COOK are currently in the middle of a “nasty name-calling contest.” It seems that Judge HANSHAW thinks that “COOK is afraid to try cases, and that COOK and his staff are incompetent when they do try them.” Apparently, HANSHAW and COOK’s victim coordinator (name??) have had some sort of misunderstanding because HANSHAW has openly called her a liar, which has created another problem between the judge and the prosecutor.
In light of this tiff, EDGAR thinks that if MAC backs off, HEATH will get a better deal in the long run. If they tried to “make something happen” before HANSHAW and COOK get their problems worked out, or before COOK convinces the judge that it’s “none of his business which cases he tries”, we might not get as good of an offer. EDGAR didn’t believe anyone was in a hurry with HEATH’s trial.
EDGAR further believes a current case (Gates), his trial, will occur before HEATH’s allowing for EDGAR to become death penalty certified by the time HEATH’s case goes to trial. BETSY tells EDGAR that they would be “tickled for him” to be certified and, if that turned out to be the case, EDGAR might not even want MAC’s office around for HEATH’s case.
Bottom line, according to EDGAR, who said according to HANSHAW, hates his “commission” (MAC’s office) and wants EDGAR certified ASAP so he wouldn’t have to “fuck with us anymore.” In addition, EDGAR suggested that MAC’s office handle the judge with kid loves because there’s this “whole string of tragic illnesses, deaths, etc. in his family” that he’s having to deal with and it’s making him a “real horses ass (more so than usual, apparently)”.
Tuesday, April 1, 1997, BETSY receives a phone message from Diana stating that SARA had called and that the plea date had been set for April 8, 1997, and trial set for June 3, 1997. BETSY immediately called SARA to find out why these dates had been set and whether she/EDGAR thought that the case would actually go to trial in June. SARA stated that HANSHAW had been “exceedingly difficult” lately, he had been the one to set the dates without really consulting anyone. SARA reassured BETSY that all that needed to happen on April 8 was for HEATH to enter a plea. . . “no big deal.”
Wednesday, April 2, 1997, defense received notice from HANSHAW’s office that stated the dates given on April 1, by Diana, were indeed pre-trial and trial dates.
April 7, 1997, SARA contacted BETSY mid-morning from the courthouse to discuss Tuesday’s (April 8) hearing. SARA inquired as to what time defense wanted to do it, because the judge had told her that he didn’t want to even bring HEATH over until all counsel were there and that it didn’t matter to him what time the plea was entered. BETSY told SARA that she’d talk to MAC and call her back. When she called back later that afternoon, BETSY informed her that if it was all the same to everyone else, MAC and his staff would be there around 10 a.m. SARA said that was fine with them and that she would call Jeannie (Judge’s case coordinator) to confirm and set it up. BETSY also called Jeannie, though she wasn’t sure if she actually spoke with Jeannie, and confirmed that MAC’s office had been in touch with SARA about doing HEATH’s plea around 10-10:30. They indicated it was “no problem whatsoever.”
Tuesday, April 8, 1997, MAC and BETSY arrive at the Lonoke County Courthouse around 9:30, earlier than need be and ran into SARA who informs MAC and BETSY that HEATH’s plea of not guilty had already been entered. During a break in the docket, MAC and BETSY spoke with HANSHAW who denied “any such conversation” with SARA and that they waited for them “as long as they could.” MAC tells HANSHAW that HEATH’s plea would need to be amended and he agreed, mentioning a possible date of April 22 to re-enter the plea.
Later in the evening of April 8, SARA called MAC’s office, spoke with BETSY, and apologized, making certain that they understood that she hadn’t “set them up.” She further stated that she talked to the case coordinator about what happened and she said HANSHAW came in Tuesday morning, wanted HEATH (and 2 other high-profile detainees) brought over, and to “go ahead and get them done and out of the courthouse.” (see Memo to Stocks File 4.14.97)
April 22, 1997 – Heath pleads not guilty and not guilty by reason of mental disease and defect.
MAC inquires COOK’s intention regarding the death penalty, gave COOK one week.
Three months after murders, still no direction of possible punishment.
April 29, 1997 Lance writes note: “HEATH wanted to know why MAC changed the plea. I told him to make a good record – that’s how the plea should have been entered in the first place. EDGAR has not been to see him [HEATH] since first time.
Three months since the murders and HEATH has been visited by EDGAR one time. ONCE.
May 12, 1997, MAC drafts a note to the file regarding a phone call with SARA Talbert of Thompson’s office. SARA informs MAC that HANSHAW pulled EDGAR and SARA aside and informed them that if MAC waited to the last minute to file motions that he would be mad, even “contemptuous”.
MAC continues by stating that he has approached COOK again asking his intentions on how HEATH’s case will proceed, informing him that the family did not wish to go to trial. COOK says he is aware of the family’s wishes but has yet to make a decision.
As he told COOK in April, MAC reminds him that he would be glad to assist on any damage control he may need if he worried about the press, viz, the family would stand behind COOK if he pled the case out. The family would do the opposite if he chose to proceed with a trial. The family would go public if COOK went against their wishes and “bowed down under political pressure.”
MAC assures COOK that nothing would be spared in showing that the family (the only surviving victims) did not want a trial where all the “problems the family was having” would be under public scrutiny.
MAC was doing as asked, as pleaded by the family; advocating no trial. The reasoning, unknown or understood at the time, would later be contemplated. According to hand-written notes, “Jack spoke w/Larry Cook – told HEATH’s family he need to plead guilty – Did he have influence?”
May 20, 1997, MAC and LANCE went to Lonoke, viewed crime scene photos, conveyed offer to Defendant, advised EDGAR of offer. EDGAR did not know who MAC was and immediately began dishing MAC CARDER with APDC!!) drove to the crime scene on Johnson road. Defendant said he needed one week.
June 6, 1997, HEATH is sentenced.
July 1997, a young boy confesses to his parents sexual abuse by Jack Walls. A “conversation” begins among neighbors.
August 1, 1997, Chief Charles PECKAT reports the “Department of Human Services called Lonoke Police Department and alleged that Charles A. Walls, III was a suspect in some sexual deviant activity with a minor.”
COOK and Barbara Elmore conduct meeting between victims’ parents at the Lonoke City Municipal Building from 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
The investigation begins.
August 4, 1997, first victim gives statement at Lonoke Police Department.
Numerous victims will come forward and give detailed statements of sexual abuse by WALLS.
September 8, 1997, Investigator Karen Clark interviews HEATH at Cummins, inquiring about any improper relationship with WALLS. HEATH give a brief statement deflecting all truth regarding WALLS, going as far as to place blame on a different scout leader. All accusations are denied.
September 19, 1997, PECKAT sends letter to COOK requesting certain docs from BSA, COOK refused to furnish a copy of the subpoena or letter to PECKAT – lack of cooperation or interest in case with Pros. Office.
October 5, 1997, COOK receives lengthy case file from PECKAT’s office. PECKAT had items that he needed submitted to the crime lab for serology and print testing analysis. COOK questioned him as to whether it was wise to send this evidence to the State Crime Lab.
October 6, 1997, Charles A. Walls, Jr. (JACK) was arrested pursuant to two warrants and charged with 2 counts of rape, held in Lonoke County Jail on $100,000.00 bond.
According to a letter written by PECKAT to HANSHAW (see 10.17.97 below), COOK discussed the WALLS matter with two families and states that PECKAT is no investigator and has prepared a poor case file. Both families expressed no confidence in Cook or the Prosecutor’s Office. He is “playing both sides.”
October 7, 1997, WALLS is charged with two counts of rape; four victims named.
October 17, 1997, PECKAT drafts a letter to HANSHAW in which he lays out his complicated interactions with COOK.
Honorable Judge Lane Hanshaw:
The Lonoke Police Department has been investigating a multitude of sexual molestation cases where several victims have identified Charles A. Walls III as the perpetrator. This has been a very difficult investigation because Trust and Confidence had to be instilled in victims and families that the judicial system works. These citizens have watched politics in our community and have developed a lack of trust where certain people are concerned.
Some victims that were first interviewed showed support when Charles A. Walls received the first two charges.
The Lonoke Police Department has not received support, guidance, suggestions, or communication from Larry Cook of the Prosecutors Office.
On 9/25/97, Mr. Cook was in my office where he received the lengthy case file, I had some evidence that was to be submitted to the crime laboratory for serology and print analysis. Mr. Cook questioned me as to whether it was wise to send this evidence to the State Crime Laboratory.
On 10/3/97, Larry Cook came to my office and stated that he was only going to pursue three of the charges against Mr. Walls. He did not give any explanation on why he did not seek warrants for two counts of solicitation of Capitol Murder. He stated that he was not going to seek Rape charges on behalf of one Rape victim because he had a gut feeling that he should not because this victim would steal the spotlight. Out of seven requests for Warrants, on victim was eliminated by The Statute of Limitations and the other required more investigation to determine an age group and date of offense.
On 9/25/9, a letter recommending no bond was requested because of the seriousness of the offenses and statements of retaliation from Mr. Walls on those that testified against him in a misdemeanor trial. If he was angry enough to solicit murder on someone that brought misdemeanor charges, what is he going to do to someone bringing serious felony charges.
On 10/8/97, Larry Cook discussed this case with two of the families of the victims. He tells one family that I am playing Lawyer and does not know anything about how to conduct an investigation. He tells another family that I am not a good investigator and prepared a poor case file. Both of these families have stated to me that they do not have confidence in Larry Cook or the Prosecutors office. He is playing both sides against the middle where he should have an open line of communication, working toward the prosecution of this case.
On 8/19/97, a letter was sent to Larry Cook requesting certain documents from the Boy Scouts of America. We did not receive all information requested and Larry Cook refuses to furnish me a copy of the subpoena or letter. He said he made a second request for documents not furnished, but he says that I can not have any requesting documentation. This is only one example of lack of cooperation or interest in this case from the Prosecutors office. I will give others upon request.
Judge Hanshaw, I respect the position of Prosecuting Attorney and have worked with Attorneys for 21 years without many problems. I receive phone calls daily from citizens, families, and victims as to why these other charges have not been filed. They have asked that Larry Cook and his office cease from having any further involvement in this case.
It is with the deepest regret that I must agree and respectfully ask that Larry Cook and members of his office be removed from this case and a special prosecutor be appointed. There is an appearance of conflict including a $300,00 campaign contribution from Hubert Alexander to Larry Cook when he ran for Prosecuting Attorney.
On the same day, COOK files Motion to Recuse so as to “avoid any appearance of impropriety.”
October 20, 1997 – Order granted by HANSHAW
On October 21, 1997, COOK is quoted by The Leader as saying he “doesn’t’ know Jack Walls personally, but he feels that since he has prosecuted cases before WALLS’ father, former Chancery/Circuit Judge Charles Walls, Jr.” HANSHAW is stated as saying, “The fact that the defendant is the son of a colleague is not a problem.”
“I’m elected to do a job,” he said. “If I got off every case where I know someone, I might as well resign.” (Cook asks, is taken off Walls rape case)
October 22, 1997, Betty Dickey is appointed Special Prosecutor by HANSHAW.
November 5, 1997, HANSHAW issues a bench warrant for the arrest of WALLS, who is served without incident at the Remington Arms Co. by the Arkansas State Police and charged with four counts of rape, a Class Y felony, 2 counts of Violation of a minor 1st degree, a Class C felony and 2 counts of Solicitation to Commit Murder in the 1st degree, a Class A felony. WALLS was held in the Pulaski County Jail in Little Rock, AR on a 1 million dollar secured bond.
November 14, 1997, charges against WALLS are again amended to include two more counts of rape by Special Prosecutor Betty Dickey.
November 26, 1997, charges are once again amended to add two additional counts of rape.
1998 – COOK leaves Prosecutor’s office and returns to private practice.
January 6, 1998, WALLS pleads guilty to five counts of rape and no contest to one count of rape.
December 30, 1998, Betty Dickey drafts a letter of support regarding HEATH’s matter. The letter states:
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:
In 1997 and 1998, as the Special Prosecutor of the Jack Walls Rape cases in Lonoke County, I learned information relevant to the 1997 murder charges to which Heath Stocks pleaded guilty. In the course of our investigation I learned that the Public Defender knew or should have known about Jack Walls’ involvement in the murders of Joe, Bonnie [Barbara] and Heather Stocks. This information came from interviews with Heath Stocks’ minister, maternal grandmother, as well as the defendant himself.
While my prosecutorial duties involved reviewing facts related to the rape by Jack Walls, of the defendant, and not related to the murders he committed, I was, and remain, strongly convinced that Heath Stocks was not afforded a fair trial, nor adequate representation.
Therefore, I believe it is appropriate that this matter be reviewed to determine whether it should be submitted to the Governor for clemency, or, other legal steps should be taken. Let me emphasize that I’m not advocating the defendant’s release, only that I, as an officer of the Court, uncovered critical evidence that should have been brought out in the 1997 murder case, but wasn’t.
January 11, 1999, PECKAT also drafted a letter on behalf of HEATH. His letter reads as follows:
To Whom It May Concern:
On January 27, 1997, Joe, Bonnie [Barbara] and Heather Stocks were found slain in their home in Furlow, Arkansas. A few days later, their eighteen (18) year old son, Heath Stocks was arrested and charged with capital murder. On June 6, 1997, Heath Stocks pled guilty and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
On July 29, 1997, the Lonoke Police department began an investigation into allegations that a former Scout Leader, “Jack Walls III, had bene sexually molesting members of his troop.” Our investigation revealed that one of those scout members was Heath Stocks.
In January 1998, victim impact statements were taken in Circuit Court. The statements included information that Jack Walls had been caught with Heath Stocks at the Stocks Residence. Heath’s mother, Bonnie [Barbara] Stocks sought advice on how to handle this problem because Jack Walls was a family friend. Ultimately Bonnie [Barbara] and the rest of her immediate family were found murdered within three (3) weeks of her witnessing Jack Walls and Heath Stocks together.
I am not advocating that Heath Stocks be released from prison, but I do feel that there is evidence and testimony available at this time, that was not available or considered before Heath Stocks pled guilty on June 6, 1997.
In January 1998, Jack Walls II pled guilty to four (4) counts of rape and other sexual offenses. One of those charges and plea of guilty involved Heath Stocks as his victim. The opening of this case, may not do anything for Heath Stocks, but it may reveal the truth of what led up to these murders and why.
February 9, 1999, Joye Cook, the victim/witness coordinator during the WALLS trial wrote a letter to PECKAT in response to his sending his letter to her by fax for comment. It reads, in part:
I received your letter by fax this morning and think it is a very good and compelling letter. I think each one of us that has heard the “whole” story believes that justice was not served for Heath. Like you, and I have told Heath this, I don’t think he needs to be out of confinement, but I do think he deserves a trial and possibly a confinement in a hospital where he can get help.
April, 2014 – COOK runs for election for the Twenty-Third Circuit as Judge and is defeated in the general election on May 20, 1014 by Ashley Parker. PARKER is the Judge over HEATH’s current matter before the Court.
During COOK’s run, several individuals were interviewed about their opinions and views of COOK running for Judge.
On April 18, 2014, Charles “Charlie” and Karen Knox, parents of Wade Knox, the first “John Doe” minor victim to be identified from the WALLS’ court proceedings stated to Ed Galucki, writer for the Lonoke Democrat that COOK’s “conduct of the case shows he has no business being a judge. No business at all.”
The Knoxes go on to say, Cook let social, political or professional influences of WALLS father, the late past Circuit Judge Charles A. Walls Jr., and Jack Walls’ standing in the community, shade his decisions. “I don’t know if [COOK] was scared of Mr. Walls or not, but I think that is why [Cook] didn’t go after [WALLS] like he should have.”
Charlie further states, “[COOK] should have got himself out of it right away, but he tried to cover that mess up and when he couldn’t, he tried to keep it small. Bit it was just too big.”
Per May 8, 2014, article in Lonoke Democrat entitled “On the wrong side of the ‘good ol’ boy’ system? by Ed Galucki:
One of two people central to one of Lonoke County’s most notorious cases echoed claims that Larry Cook, current candidate for Lonoke County Circuit Court Judge, allowed social and political pressures to affect his decisions as prosecuting attorney.
Heath Stocks, serving life-without-parole in the Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC) maximum-security unit at Tucker, in an interview with this newspaper Friday, also added new information to his controversial case.
Stocks said that when he shot his father, Joe; mother, Barbara; and sister, Heather on Jan. 17, 1997, Charles A. ‘Jack’ Walls III accompanied him to “make sure the job got done,” affirming a suspicion held by many involved with the case of Walls’ involvement in the killings. “It wouldn’t have ever happened if [Walls] hadn’t been there,” Stocks said. Until now, Stocks avoided saying that Walls was at the scene.
Stocks echoed the claim made by Charles and Karen Knox of Lonoke that Cook tried to either cover up or minimize the part played by Walls in the sexual abuse of a large number of boys. The Knoxes and Stocks say Cook let social, political or professional influences, specifically that of Walls’ father, the late Charles A. Walls Jr., a past circuit judge, affect his decisions as prosecutor early in the case.
Cook did not seek re-election in 1998 and has since practiced as a private attorney.
Cook, replying to a request for a response for an article April 24, released a statement. “Almost 17 years ago our community was devastated because of the shocking crimes committed by Jack Walls that came to light. I was the Lonoke County Prosecuting Attorney at that time and filed two rape charges against Jack Walls while continuing to review the file for additional charges before deciding to recuse. I made that decision to allow an out-of-county attorney to take over the prosecution to ensure there would be no question of prejudice,” Cook said.
On Tuesday, Cook was forwarded questions concerning Stocks’ claims, his responses are included.
The request to be recused was made by Cook on Oct. 18, 1997, accounts from the time are that the investigation of Walls began in early August.
In the interview, Stocks detailed why he believes it was Walls’ connection to his own case that caused Cook to shy away from questioning him about being raped by Walls. Cook, he said, had been a longtime friend to both Wallses, attending functions at the Walls family farm, and working at Walls’ law firm.
On Tuesday, Cook was asked, “Did you perform duties for or work with Charles A. Walls Jr. at his law firm prior to becoming prosecuting attorney?” Cook replied, “No, I did not.”
Cook was also asked, “Did you attend social, political or professional functions at the Walls farm prior to or after becoming prosecuting attorney?” Cook replied, “No, I did not.”
While the investigation of Walls was ongoing, and after Walls’s arrest in October 1997, Cook refused to speak with him, Stocks said. “[Cook] didn’t send anybody to talk to me… I do not remember having any conversation with him.”
On Tuesday, Cook was asked “Did you or any of your deputies speak with Heath Stocks in the course of the 1997 investigation of Jack Walls?” Cook replied, “No, I did not.”
Cook was biased in applying the law, Stocks said. “If you do something wrong the law should apply to you whether or not you are from a prominent family. You don’t need somebody like that being a judge.”
“[Cook] did not want what happened to me to come out,” Stocks said. “If he did, it would have changed my whole case, and it would have been bad for Jack.”
Stocks said investigating his abuse meant the likelihood of many more victims as well as Walls’ participation in the killing of the Stocks family being brought out if charges had been pursued related to him, Stocks said.
On Tuesday, Cook was asked, “Did you meet or speak with Charles A. “Jack” Walls III concerning the arrest of Heath Stocks in the shootings of Joe, Barbara and Heather Stocks? If so, when and where were the meetings?” Cook replied, “No, I did not.”
It was not just in his case, but in at least three others, Stocks said. “[Cook] filed only two charges after two months with the case. Just look at what Betty Dickey did in just a couple of days with the same information,” he said.
Stocks was later identified as one of the six minor “John Doe” victims of Walls.
When the Walls case broke, only then-Lonoke Chief of Police Charles Peckat spoke with him about Walls, Stocks said. Some family members also questioned him concerning one of the other victims, Stocks said.
Stocks said that Walls had been molesting boys “for a long time.” In the small-town atmosphere of Lonoke, there had to be people who knew about Walls but did nothing because it was the Walls family involved, Stocks said. “There’s a lot of families with sons that Jack messed with that they want it kept quiet. They don’t want their names tarnished.”
It took an “outsider,” in Peckat, to break the cycle of protection for Walls, even though Cook “balked at doing it,” Stocks said. “Peckat is the one who forced it.”
A copy of an Oct. 17, 1997 letter from Peckat to then-Circuit Judge Lance Hanshaw, claims that Cook was balking on pressing charges. Peckat also said that Cook told him rape charges for one victim would not be sought because of a “gut feeling” that the “victim would steal the spotlight.”
Cook asked to be recused Oct. 18, 1997.
Peckat has not responded to requests for comment.
Stocks said Walls used his courthouse connections, name-dropping to intimidate impressionable boys. “Jack was the first one to visit me in the county jail. He told me he was going to talk to the prosecutor. He was going to help me all he could. For me to be quiet,” he said. “He took care of me, all right. He got rid of me.”
It was during the prosecution of Walls for the rapes that Stocks divulged that he had killed his family at Walls’ direction; by that time Stocks had been imprisoned for about a year.
Walls is serving three, concurrent, 40-year terms, and three, concurrent, life sentences on in ADC for the rapes; he pleaded guilty on five counts and no-contest to the sixth. The sentences are levied for the life sentence to be served after the 40-year term.
Stocks said he is seeking a re-sentencing. “My main thing is I never claimed complete innocence. All I want for them to do is look to see what is there.”
Stocks said that in the family’s rush to avoid the death penalty, he had been told to plead guilty. “So, a lot of the abuse that would have been mitigating circumstances was not heard.” Life-without parole is still a death penalty, “just slower,” he said.
There are many reasons why he has waited to speak about Walls’ presence at the shootings, but much has to do with lack of evidence, Stocks said. “It’s just my word against [Walls]. Without evidence, it’s just conversation.”
This, too, is just a conversation, one we encourage sharing and contributing to. In the name of truth, TRUST, and justice, let’s encourage…..no, let’s DEMAND transparency in our judicial system which often incorporates politics – they are bedfellows, after all.