MURFREESBORO—After no more than fifteen minutes of deliberation, a jury returned with a guilty verdict in Pike County Circuit Court Thursday, October 22.
Thirty-six-year-old Dustin B. Hembey of Delight was sentenced to thirty years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections and given a $15,000 fine for the felony offense of possession of a firearm by a certain person.
The charge stemmed from an incident on September 13, 2014 when Hembey placed a 9-1-1 call to the Pike County Sheriff’s Office in reference to his mother falling and hitting her head. According to the affidavit of arrest, responding deputies were advised before arrival at the scene that Hembey was a felon just released on parole and that there was the possibility that firearms were inside the residence.
Pike County Deputy Shaun Furr was the first officer to arrive on scene. Upon his arrival, he spoke with Hembey. Medics that were already on scene advised Deputy Furr that Mrs. Hembey’s wounds were not consistent with the nature of the call. Deputy Furr then contacted Pike County Detective Sergeant Clark Kinzler to assist with processing the scene.
Detective Kinzler told Deputy Furr to secure the scene and see if Hembey would sign a consent to search form for the residence. Hembey signed the consent form and when Detective Kinzler arrived at the residence he requested Hembey to do a physical reenactment of the incident.
During the reenactment, Hembey took officers to the bedroom he claimed as his and a box of Remington 22 ammunition was found on the nightstand and a 22 rifle was stacked in the corner of the bedroom with two other air rifles.
After the scene was processed, Kinzler told Hembey that he was being placed under arrest for being a felon in possession of a firearm.
The state called two witnesses to testify in the first part of the trial, Deputy Furr and Detective Kinzler. Deputy Furr’s testimony correlated with the information given in the affidavit of arrest, as did Detective Kinzler’s. Detective Kinzler had more evidence of various types of ammunition that was found in the room and added that the 22 rifle that was confiscated was “fully loaded”. He also had found eight spent shells in the room.
Hembey chose not to testify on his own behalf and the jury then left to return quickly with the verdict of guilty.
In the second half of the trial, the state brought forth the evidence to impose sentencing for Hembey. Three witnesses for the state all attested to Hembey’s unstable and violent nature, with one stating that Hembey was very violent stating, “He (Hembey) could go from being your best friend to worst enemy at the drop of a hat.”
The state also proved that Hembey was a habitual offender, meaning that he had been convicted of more than one felony in the past. The state asked the jury to give Hembey the maximum sentence allowed due to his history.
Hembey’s defense attorney told the jury that Hembey had no violent prior convictions and asked the jury to consider the lower end of the sentencing spectrum because at the time of crime Hembey was not using the firearm, not threatening anyone with the firearm and the firearm was not found in his vehicle. He also pointed out that it could not be determined if the 22 did in fact belong to Hembey and that ownership of the residence was also undetermined.
With a very short deliberation, the jury returned with the maximum sentence of 30 years in the ADC and a fine of $15,000.