- Associated Press - Friday, June 10, 2016

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (AP) - A Garland County man whose conviction in the killing of five people was overturned in 2012 has now pleaded guilty to the slayings.

The Sentinel-Record (http://bit.ly/1WIeaVH ) reports that 30-year-old Samuel Conway pleaded guilty Thursday to five counts of first-degree murder and was sentenced to 40 years in prison on each count as part of a plea agreement. The prison sentences will run concurrently.

Conway’s 2011 conviction was overturned by the Arkansas Supreme Court because a judge refused to dismiss a juror who had told the judge near the end of testimony that he had already made up his mind about Conway’s guilt, and therefore couldn’t be a fair juror. Conway’s attorney had argued that her client’s right to a fair trial was thwarted by the judge’s refusal.

Conway was accused in the deaths of Jeremy Gentry, Kristyn Warneke, Pamela Gentry, Edward Gentry and Edward Gentry Sr. The bodies of the Pearcy residents were found by firefighters responding to a fire in a mobile home in November 2009.

Authorities say Edward Gentry Sr. had been bound, gagged, beaten and shot. Authorities say the others were also shot before the mobile home was set on fire.

Conway is currently serving a life sentenced for capital murder in connection to the shooting death of his 50-year-old aunt in 2005. He also received a 49-year prison sentence for aggravated robbery in connection to her death.

He had appealed the sentences stemming from his aunt’s killing, but they were recently affirmed by the Arkansas Supreme Court.

Prosecutor Terri Harris said that the court’s affirmation of Conway’s conviction in that other case allowed them to feel that they could move forward to try and obtain a plea agreement in the five slayings. Harris said it was her understanding Conway “did not want to go through another trial,” which prompted his willingness plead guilty.

“In my opinion, it’s best for the family to finally have some closure. There is something to be said for this defendant standing in open court and accepting responsibility for what happened,” Harris said.

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Information from: The Sentinel-Record, http://www.hotsr.com

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