- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 3, 2016

TEXARKANA, Ark. (AP) - Testimony has begun for a woman accused of fatally shooting a fellow square dancer in Texarkana, Arkansas.

The Texarkana Gazette (https://bit.ly/20qCFZZ ) reports that 67-year-old Virginia Ann Hyatt is charged with capital murder in the December 2013 shooting death of 59-year-old Patti Wheelington.

Crime Scene Investigator Marc Sillivan said during testimony that it appeared as if Wheelington was shot as she sat in a chair on her front porch and that four more bullets entered her forearm and chest as she tried to reach the door.

Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Chuck Black says Hyatt, driven by jealousy, was convinced that Wheelington was the reason her husband left their home a few days prior.

Hyatt’s attorney, John Pickett, argued that the state doesn’t have enough evidence to prove Hyatt killed Wheelington, or that she did it with premeditation, which is required for a capital murder conviction.

He also argued that the state rushed to arrest a suspect without conducting a thorough investigation. The jury may not hear testimony as to why investigators were able to identify Hyatt as a suspect less than 24 hours after Wheelington’s death.

Circuit Judge Randy Wright ruled Tuesday that Detective Shane Kirkland couldn’t tell the jury about his interview with Ken Caldwell, the last person to speak to Wheelington.

Court documents say Caldwell was talking to Wheelington on the phone when she told him Hyatt was coming up her driveway. Caldwell’s statements weren’t taped, and he died of illness shortly after the homicide.

Testimony is expected to continue Wednesday in Miller County Court. Hyatt faces life without parole if convicted.


Information from: Texarkana Gazette, https://www.texarkanagazette.com

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