BY CHARLES GOODIN
Editor, Nashville News
NASHVILLE – A Pearcy man accused of leading police on a multi-county chase last year plead guilty to an assault charge stemming from the incident Wednesday in Howard County Circuit Court.
Reuben Ellis Stapleton, 41, was sentenced to six years in the Arkansas Department of Correction with two suspended after entering the plea. He was also ordered to pay court costs and an unspecificed amount of restitution related to the chase.
Court documents indicate that events leading to Stapleton’s arrest began Aug. 18, when a Garland County deputy advised the Arkansas State Police he was in pursuit of a White GMC Sonoma with fictitious tags on Highway 70. The affidavit of arrest alleges that the vehicle passed a store in Bonnerdale at 3:04 p.m., crossed a set of spike strips at the highway’s intersection with Highway 182 at 3:07 and again struck a set of spike strips north of Kirby.
“Officers believed the vehicle hit the spikes, but it continued westbound on U.S. 70,” ASP Investigator Hays McWhirter wrote in the affidavit. “The pursuit continued through Pike County and into Howard County.”
Fewer than 40 minutes later, state trooper Kyle Jones executed a PIT maneuver, which, combined with more spike strips deployed by Howard County deputies, ultimately resulted in Stapleton’s apprehension, according to the report.
“The vehicle accelerated and struck the front of Sergeant [Mickey] Simmons’ ASP unit,” McWhirter wrote in the affidavit. “Sergeant Simmons told this agent that after the PIT maneuver, he had pulled off onto the shoulder of the highway and stopped. The suspect vehicle was in the middle of the highway facing Simmons’ unit when the suspect accelerated and crashed head on into Simmons’ unit.”
Simmons was transported to a Garland County hospital following the incident, while Stapleton was taken to Pike County Jail, where he was charged with a slate of misdemeanors in addition to the felony assault charge.
In other court news from Wednesday, the court accepted a number of not guilty pleas, including those from Tony Benson, 22, of Nashville, charged with fourth degree sexual assault; and Marcus Ross, 31, of Nashville, charged with possession of a controlled substance enhanced by proximity to certain facilities and possession of drug paraphernalia.