NEWPORT — A teen accused of murdering a Newport police officer in 2017 was sentenced Tuesday to 42 years in prison, prosecutors announced.
Derrick Heard, 19, of Newport, confessed to shooting Lt. Patrick Weatherford in June 2017, according to previous Sun reporting. Third Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Henry Boyce told the Newport Independent in August 2017 that Heard was accused of breaking into a parked vehicle and stealing a purse.
“The owner of that vehicle called 911, reported that her vehicle had been broken into and gave a description of the person that she actually saw. Several officers were dispatched, including Patrick Weatherford, who encountered the suspect … at the intersection of Remmel and Bowen,” Boyce said. “The suspect ran off the road, jumped off his bike and led them on a foot chase for about a block and a half, where Lt. Weatherford cornered him in a vacant lot. After a short standoff, Heard fired and one of the shots killed Lt. Weatherford. He wasn’t dead immediately, but later died at the hospital.”
Heard was a minor at the time of the fatal shooting, but the Arkansas Court of Appeals ruled last December that he could be charged as an adult, previous reporting indicates.
Jackson County Circuit Judge Harold Erwin on Monday accepted Heard’s negotiated guilty plea on first-degree murder, attempted capital murder, breaking or entering a vehicle, theft of a debit card and possession of a handgun by a minor.
The murder and attempted murder sentences of 24 years will run concurrently at the Arkansas Department of Corrections, and 18 years for the other charges will run consecutively afterward, according to a press release.
“This case has been without question one of great impact to the (residents) of this community, as well as to the law enforcement community in general,” Boyce said Tuesday afternoon.
In an unrelated case, Newport police announced Monday that an arrest was made in connection to a December 2017 killing.
With the assistance of the U.S. Marshals Service, Victor Cousin, of Houston, was arrested in connection to the Dec. 16, 2017, of Quinton Pruitt, 43, of Newport.
The day of the murder, officers were dispatched to Calhoun Circle, according to NPD. Upon their arrival, they located Pruitt suffering from a gunshot wound.
Pruitt was later pronounced dead and his death was ruled a homicide. During the investigation, detectives interviewed several individuals and developed Cousan and another individual as suspects.
Another arrest is expected in the case, police say. Until formal charges are filed, the name is being withheld.