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Inmates cheer as defendant aquitted

A man charged in a March shooting incident was acquitted by reason of mental disease or defect Monday in Van Buren County Circuit Court.

As Judge Mike Maggio announced the decision in the case of Samuel Gates, 44, inmates in the courtroom erupted in applause.

Maggio cautioned them to be quiet. Apparently, Gates had become well-liked during his stay in the county jail. He was released from custody Monday.

In March, a motorist on Highway 65 reported to police that his vehicle had been struck by bullets and his neck was injured. During their investigation, deputies found Gates who told them he had shot at a white pickup truck, according to court records. Gates had been charged with battery-first degree, a terroristic act and possession of firearms by certain persons.

Two defendants in court Monday were sentenced to prison.

Chad Thompson told the judge he had stolen a motorcycle. He was sentenced to six years in the Arkansas Department of Correction with four years’ suspended imposition of sentence. Thompson was ordered to turn himself in to the sheriff’s office by 6 p.m. Oct. 14.

Michael E. Kendrick, 28, pleaded guilty to theft of property and was sentenced to six years in prison. He also was ordered to pay restitution of $3,785.

Asked what he done to land himself in court, Kendrick said shortly, “I stole a truck.”

Heather Isom read a victim’s impact statement before Kendrick was sentenced. She said she and her husband had befriended Kendrick and allowed him to stay in their home. She said they got up one morning and discovered their truck, work tools and cash were missing.

Isom said she felt “anger, hurt, confusion, worry, fear” about the incident. “We worked very hard for everything we have,” she said.

Also in court Monday, Rodney Earl Goodwin was sentenced to 60 months probation for theft of property. He testified that he “took a truck.”

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