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Scotty Ray Gardner - Arkansas Death Row
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  1. #1
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    Scotty Ray Gardner - Arkansas Death Row




    Murder suspect's trial continued


    BY SEAN INGRAM
    The Courier-News

    CONWAY -- A man who was arrested last year and charged with capital murder of a Russellville native had his Faulkner County Circuit Court hearing continued to May 23.

    Circuit Judge Charles "Ed" Clawson Jr. granted a request to reschedule a hearing for Ray Gardner, 56, who is currently being held without bond in the Arkansas Department of Correction on a parole violation. He was scheduled to appear in court March 21.

    Gardner was charged with capital murder in the death of Susan "Heather" Stubbs, who grew up in Pope County and graduated from Russellville High School. Stubbs was found deceased March 6, 2016, in a Conway Days Inn Hotel room.

    A hotel clerk told police Gardner booked the room and made arrangements to come back later to pay for another night but when he didn't show up, she went to check the room. The clerk said that's when she discovered Stubbs and called police.

    Police tracked Gardner to Hot Springs where he was picked up and brought back to Conway 24 hours after her body was found. Gardner was on parole when he was arrested.

    According to an affidavit, Gardner told prosecutors anger and jealousy caused him to snap on March 6 and said he and Stubbs, who were in a relationship got in a heated argument and he "eventually grabbed a nearby cord and 'wrapped it around her neck.'"

    During the struggle, Stubbs tried to fight back but stopped responding after he choked her and, "I guess I choked her out after that. I might have killed her. I don't know," the affidavit stated.

    Gardner told prosecutors he left to go gambling to avoid thinking about the situation, according to the affidavit.

    Gardner was sentenced to ADC in October 1991 after he pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree criminal attempt to commit murder. A jury later convicted Gardner of one count each of first-degree criminal attempt to commit murder and first-degree battery after he appealed his statement.

    Gardner was paroled from prison on Dec. 4, 2015, after serving 23 years of his sentence.

    Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in his current case.

    Last December, Judge Clawson granted a request by Gardner and appointed Katherine S. Streett as his attorney. Gardner wrote the circuit judge a letter on Oct. 14 and said he was frustrated with his attorneys. A motion granted by the judge stated that T. Scott Brisendine will remain as counsel of record.

    Gardner said he was "open and very understanding" and was ready to go to trial, adding that he understood what he was charged with and the sentence he will receive if found guilty. But he said he felt the defense counsel delayed his case and kept evidence from him.

    Clawson ruled during that December hearing to seal Gardner's letters from the public eye at the request of the defense.

    http://www.couriernews.com/view/full...rial-continued

  2. #2
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    November trial set in hotel murder

    By Sean Ingram
    The Courier-News

    CONWAY -- The man accused of killing a Russellville native will be tried for capital murder in November in Faulkner County Circuit Court.

    The trial of Scotty Ray Gardner, 56, of Mayflower will begin Nov. 27 and is scheduled for two weeks. Prosecutors said Tuesday after a hearing in Conway that they are "not going to come off" seeking the death penalty for Gardner, who is charged with the strangulation of Susan "Heather" Stubbs.

    Stubbs, who grew up in Pope County and graduated from Russellville High School, was found dead March 6, 2016, in a Conway Days Inn Hotel room.

    Prosecutors agreed with Katherine S. Streett and Thomas Scott Brisendine, Gardner's defense attorneys, on the two-week schedule in November. They were told by Faulkner County Circuit Judge Charles "Ed" Clawson Jr. that they were "in good shape as far as moving toward a resolution in this matter."

    Clawson set a Sept. 1 pretrial deadline to file any more motions before the Nov. 27 trial. Street told the judge all defense motions should be filed by the end of the week and certainly by the end of June.

    A hotel clerk told police Gardner booked the room and made arrangements to come back later to pay for another night but when he didn't show up, she went to check the room. The clerk said that's when she discovered Stubbs and called police.

    Police tracked Gardner to Hot Springs where he was picked up and brought back to Conway 24 hours after her body was found. He was on parole from prison since 2015 after he served 23 years of a previous sentence.

    According to an affidavit, Gardner told prosecutors anger and jealousy caused him to snap on March 6 and said he and Stubbs, who were in a relationship, got in a heated argument and he "eventually grabbed a nearby cord and wrapped it around her neck."

    During the struggle, Stubbs tried to fight back but stopped responding after he choked her and, "I guess I choked her out after that. I might have killed her. Ś I don't know," the affidavit stated.

    Gardner told prosecutors he then left to go gambling, according to the affidavit.

    Gardner was sentenced to ADC in October 1991 after he pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree criminal attempt to commit murder. A jury later convicted Gardner of one count each of first-degree criminal attempt to commit murder and first-degree battery after he appealed his statement.

    Clawson granted a request by Gardner last December and appointed Streett as his attorney. Gardner said in an Oct. 14 letter that he was frustrated with his attorneys and they delayed his case and kept evidence from him. Brisendine remained as Gardner's counsel of record.

    http://www.couriernews.com/view/full...n-hotel-murder

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    Captial murder trial seeking death punishment delayed

    By MARISA HICKS
    The Log Cabin Democrat

    A capital murder suspect is expected to stand before a Faulkner County judge for a pretrial hearing exactly two years from his arrest date in early 2018.

    The case is the first in more than 30 years where prosecutors in Faulkner County are seeking the death penalty.

    Attorneys representing suspect Scotty Ray Gardner, 56, cite a need for more time to prepare for trial.

    “Although counsel is working as diligently as possible to prepare this case for trial, it is not possible for this case to be adequately prepared as currently scheduled,” Defense Attorney Katherine S. Streett wrote in a motion to Circuit Judge Charles “Ed” Clawson Jr. requesting to delay the trial.

    Streett and Defense Attorney T. Scott Brisendine said they now have a lead on “potentially mitigating evidence” and will need more time to investigate and prepare for trial.

    “Specifically, a continuance is necessary due to the recent discovery by the defense of potentially mitigating evidence which requires further investigation,” the motion reads. “Because the evidence at issue is located in another state and dates from several decades ago, the investigation into this information will likely be more time consuming than would otherwise be expected.”

    Gardner is suspected in the March 6, 2016, hotel slaying of Susan “Heather” Stubbs.

    He was accused in Stubbs’s death after a hotel clerk found her lying facedown in Room 114 of Days Inn on Oak Street. When police arrived, she was found strangled to death from a cord.

    According to an affidavit, Gardner told prosecutors anger and jealousy caused him to snap the day he allegedly killed Stubbs.

    The two had been staying in Room 114 since Feb. 21 and Gardner said he became upset when he noticed Stubbs talking to other men walking past their room on March 6.

    Gardner told officers he was still upset with Stubbs from a previous incident, “but had been trying to forgive her for it until this new incident happened,” referencing a Dec. 19 incident where Stubbs filed a third-degree battery report against him.

    “He said he knew that he could not just grab her and throw her on the bed because she would go and tell on him. He said everything just kept building up and he had just snapped. Scotty said the only thing he knew was that he ‘was not going to let Heather go tell the police nothing,’” the affidavit reads.

    At one point during the heated argument, Gardner “eventually grabbed a nearby cord and ‘wrapped it around her neck’” when she tried to scratch him in defense, according to the affidavit.

    “I might have killed her… I don’t know,” he said, adding he then left to go gambling to avoid thinking about the situation.

    Gardner has been charged as a habitual offender in the past. He was sentenced to Arkansas Department of Corrections (ADC) in October 1991 and served 23 years of his sentence.

    On Nov. 8, 1990, Gardner was charged with two counts of criminal attempt to commit first-degree murder.

    He was sentenced to two 30-year concurrent terms, with seven years of each term suspended.

    The case was later reopened and he was convicted of first-degree criminal attempt to commit murder and one count of first-degree battery for shooting his then-wife, who was pregnant.

    He was paroled from ADC on Dec. 4, 2015, about three months before he allegedly killed Stubbs.

    Clawson agreed Tuesday to move the trial to next summer, resetting the two-week trial for Aug. 14-24.

    Gardner is set to appear in Faulkner County Circuit Court prior to the trial for a pretrial hearing at 1 p.m. March 7, which is exactly two years after he was arrested on the aforementioned capital murder charge.

    http://thecabin.net/local/news/crime...shment-delayed

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    March 7, 2018

    Faulkner County judge denies capital murder suspects request to suppress statements made during his 2016 arrest

    By Marisa Hicks
    The Log Cabin Democrat

    A Faulkner County judge has denied a 57-year-old murder suspects request to suppress statements he made during his 2016 arrest.

    Circuit Judge Charles Ed Clawson Jr. first heard arguments regarding the request in September. During an afternoon pretrial hearing Wednesday, he denied a motion to suppress statements Attorney Thomas Scott Brisendine filed on capital murder suspect Scotty Ray Gardners behalf.

    Gardner, who is accused of killing Susan Heather Stubbs on March 6, 2016, after a hotel clerk found her lying facedown in Room 114 of Days Inn on Oak Street. When police arrived, she was found strangled to death from a cord.

    Brisendine said during the September motion hearing that Gardners statements should not be allowed as evidence because a Conway Police Department detective continued asking questions after [Gardner] requested a lawyer.

    Sgt. Melissa Smith questioned Gardner following his arrest at the Garland County Sheriffs Office and, upon Gardners request for a second conversation with Smith, at the Faulkner County Detention Center Unit II.

    Smith said she does not feel she impeded on Gardeners rights, noting she stopped all questions pertaining to Gardners guilt in Stubbs death after he mentioned wanting a lawyer.

    Brisendine said all statements Gardner made during this interview should be thrown out as far as evidence exposed to the jury during trial because Smith continued speaking with Gardner after his request.

    Clawson ultimately struck down the defenses request on Wednesday.

    Clawson also gave prosecutors the OK to include victim impact statements during the sentencing phase of Gardners trial.

    Brisendine and Katherine S. Streett, who also represents Gardner, have previously addressed their concerns about victim impact statements, cautioning that statements could become redundant and only inflame the jury.

    In his ruling, Clawson said prosecutors are permitted to use victim impact witnesses that are necessary to the penalty phase and do not become redundant or repetitive.

    According to a probable cause affidavit, Gardner, who faces the death penalty in this case, told prosecutors that anger and jealousy caused him to snap the day he allegedly killed Stubbs.

    The two had been staying in Room 114 since Feb. 21 and Gardner said he became upset when he noticed Stubbs talking to other men walking past their room on March 6.

    Gardner told officers he was still upset with Stubbs from a previous incident, but had been trying to forgive her for it until this new incident happened, referencing a Dec. 19 incident where Stubbs filed a third-degree battery report against him.

    He said he knew that he could not just grab her and throw her on the bed because she would go and tell on him. He said everything just kept building up and he had just snapped. Scotty said the only thing he knew was that he was not going to let Heather go tell the police nothing, the affidavit reads.

    At one point during the heated argument, Gardner eventually grabbed a nearby cord and wrapped it around her neck when she tried to scratch him in defense, according to the affidavit.

    I might have killed her... I dont know, he said, adding he then left to go gambling to avoid thinking about the situation.

    Gardner is set to stand trial regarding the aforementioned case from Aug. 14-25 in Faulkner County Circuit Court.

    http://www.thecabin.net/news/2018030...is-2016-arrest
    Last edited by Moh; 05-07-2018 at 04:37 PM. Reason: Added date

  5. #5
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    Voire dire in death penalty case has begun, no jurors selected yet

    By Marisa Hicks
    The Log Cabin Democrat

    The jury selection process for Faulkner County’s first death penalty trial in more than 30 years began Monday morning.

    Potential jurors filled the courthouse as the voire dire — jury selection — began shortly before 9:30 a.m. in the capital murder case against Scotty Ray Gardner.

    Many potential jurors were dismissed early on in the voire dire process Monday morning, including one woman who was close with the victim in this case.

    One woman out in the crowd stood up and said she did not feel she would be able to hear the evidence in this case without holding a biased opinion of the defendant, noting she went to church with and was friends with Susan “Heather” Stubbs.

    “I’m afraid I would have a hard time with it because she was a very sweet girl,” the woman said moments before Circuit Judge Charles “Ed” Clawson Jr. dismissed her from the courtroom.

    Voire dire in the Gardner trial is being conducted “a little differently” than other jury selections typically would be, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney John Hout explained to those involved.

    Potential jurors were called up before court officials three at a time Monday. As they looked out to attorneys from both parties, each was questioned about their opinions regarding the death penalty and whether they were comfortable with possibly sentencing Gardner to death after hearing all evidence tied to this case.

    “We’re doing [voire dire] differently, because in this particular case, there’s something a little different,” Hout said as jury selection began Monday morning. “I’m going to talk about the elephant in the room. This defendant is accused of capital murder ... [and is] facing the death penalty.”

    Hout further explained that the selection process regarding potential jurors in this case is going to take longer than other cases to ensure a fair trial for all parties involved -- prosecutors, the defense counsel, the defendant and the jury.

    “This process is going to take a while because we want to be fair to the defendant, we want to be fair to the prosecutors and we want to be fair to your beliefs,” he said.

    Attorneys involved in Monday’s voire dire wanted to ensure that potential jurors would be able to consider handing down a death penalty verdict in this matter. In a capital case where a defendant faces the death penalty, defense attorney Katherine S. Streett said each juror must be able to consider this possibility, even though they are not required to sentence the defendant to death, and instead could sentence Gardner to life without parole if he is found guilty.

    Fifteen potential jurors were questioned Monday. The process began shortly before 9:30 a.m. and continued until 7:30 p.m.

    Of those questioned, two of the first three were dismissed because they said they could not bring themselves to sentence someone to death.

    “Can you envision a set of circumstances where the death penalty would be appropriate,” Hout asked the first three potential jurors Monday morning.

    Immediately, one woman said: “No ... I’m sorry.”

    “Being selected as a juror, I have a lot of mixed emotions of that decision being put on me,” the woman said.

    One man said he also could not let that possibility weigh on his conscience.

    “The idea of sentencing someone to death ... there’s so much finality to that,” he said.

    At the end of the day, the court had not yet selected any jurors to serve on the Gardner case.

    Potential jurors and court officials will reconvene at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, and the process will continue.

    At one point during the voire dire process Monday, the 57-year-old capital murder suspect looked back at representatives from his attorneys’ office and asked if it was necessary for him to be in court for this portion of his trial.

    Dressed in a white, button-up shirt and blue jeans featuring a dark wash, he asked to leave the courtroom at 11:25 a.m.

    “Can’t I just leave and come back tomorrow?” he asked.

    Gardner is suspected in the March 6, 2016, hotel slaying of Susan “Heather” Stubbs.

    He was accused in Stubbs’s death after a hotel clerk found her lying facedown in Room 114 of Days Inn on Oak Street in Conway. When police arrived, she was found strangled to death from a cord.

    According to an affidavit, Gardner told prosecutors that anger and jealousy caused him to snap the day he allegedly killed Stubbs.

    The two had been staying in Room 114 since Feb. 21 and Gardner said he became upset when he noticed Stubbs talking to other men walking past their room on the day in question.

    Gardner told officers he was still upset with Stubbs from a previous incident, “but had been trying to forgive her for it until this new incident happened,” referencing a Dec. 19 incident where Stubbs filed a third-degree battery report against him.

    “He said he knew that he could not just grab her and throw her on the bed because she would go and tell on him. He said everything just kept building up and he had just snapped. Scotty said the only thing he knew was that he ‘was not going to let Heather go tell the police nothing,’” the affidavit reads.

    At one point during the heated argument, Gardner “eventually grabbed a nearby cord and ‘wrapped it around her neck’” when she tried to scratch him in defense, according to the affidavit.

    “I might have killed her ... I don’t know,” he said, adding he then left to go gambling to avoid thinking about the situation.

    Gardner has been charged as a habitual offender in the past. He was sentenced to Arkansas Department of Corrections (ADC) in October 1991 and served 23 years of his sentence.

    On Nov. 8, 1990, Gardner was charged with two counts of criminal attempt to commit first-degree murder.

    He was sentenced to two 30-year concurrent terms, with seven years of each term suspended.

    The case was later reopened and he was convicted of first-degree criminal attempt to commit murder and one count of first-degree battery for shooting his then-wife, who was pregnant.

    He was paroled from ADC on Dec. 4, 2015, about three months before he allegedly killed Stubbs.

    The current capital murder trial against Gardner is expected to run through Aug. 24.

    http://www.thecabin.net/news/2018081...s-selected-yet

  6. #6
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    Attorneys select 10 to serve on Gardner case; voir dire continues Friday morning

    By Marisa Hicks
    The Log Cabin Democrat

    Ten jurors have been sworn in to serve in the county’s first death penalty case in more than 30 years.

    Voir dire in the Gardner trial began shortly before 9:20 a.m. Tuesday.

    Prosecutors and the defense counsel have questioned potential jurors from each of the county’s eight jury panels three at a time over the past three days. Several potential jurors have been dismissed from the courtroom over the past few days after stating they would not be able to sentence another man to death.

    “The idea of sentencing someone to death ... there’s so much finality to that,” one man who was released from the potential pool said during the first day of jury selection.

    Through the tedious elimination process, attorneys on both sides of the case approved 10 jurors -- six women and four men -- Thursday afternoon.

    Each of the 10 who were selected to serve on the jury panel in the Gardner case were sworn in by Circuit Judge Charles “Ed” Clawson Jr. shortly after 2:30 p.m. Thursday.

    Following the swearing in of these 10 panelists, the voir dire -- jury selection -- immediately resumed.

    Just as he has done countless times over the last three days, Deputy Prosecutor John Hout stood before a group of three potential jurors at 2:40 p.m. and began describing why jury selection has been handled differently in this matter and the need to determine what each of the potential juror’s stance on the death penalty was.

    “I apologize and realize this has been an extremely inconvenient [process],” he said.

    However, despite the inconvenience to those potentially serving on the jury in the Gardner trial, Hout said it was important to ensure each juror selected to serve on this particular panel would be OK with considering sentencing Scotty Gardner to death.

    Scotty Ray Gardner, 57, is accused of strangling Susan “Heather” Stubbs to death at the Days Inn Hotel in Conway on March 6, 2016.

    He faces capital murder charges following Stubbs’ death, and prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

    In Arkansas, a defendant found guilty of capital murder can receive one of two punishments: life in prison without the possibility of parole or death. However, prosecutors cannot seek the death penalty in all capital cases.

    “The death penalty is never an automatic option,” Hout explained.

    Not only are prosecutors required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Gardner killed Stubbs “premeditated and deliberately,” but, Hout said, they must also prove there was at least one aggravating circumstance or factor that contributed to the alleged crime.

    Scott Brisendine, one of the attorneys who represents Gardner, reminded those who participated in Wednesday’s voir dire that one juror’s opinion could keep Gardner from being sentenced to death.

    In accordance with state law, each of the 12 jurors serving in a death penalty case must agree on the sentence. If each of the 12 jurors does not sign the death sentencing order, Gardner instead would be sentenced to life without parole.

    Voir dire in the Gardner trial will resume Friday morning as court officials look to fill the remaining two vacancies on the jury panel, while also appointing three alternates.

    Opening statements are scheduled to begin Monday morning in Faulkner County Circuit Court. Online records show the Gardner trial is expected to run through Aug. 24.

    http://www.thecabin.net/news/2018081...friday-morning
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    7 women, 5 men selected to serve as jurors in death penalty case

    By Marisa Hicks
    The Log Cabin Democrat

    Prosecutors will begin opening statements in the capital murder trial against Scotty Gardner on Monday.

    After 20th Judicial District prosecutors and the defense counsel representing the 57-year-old capital murder suspect spent four days selecting a jury to serve in the county’s first death penalty trial in more than 30 years, court officials are now ready to move forward with opening statements and witness testimony.

    As of Thursday afternoon, 10 jurors -- six women and four men -- had been selected to serve in the Gardner trial. As of 7:30 p.m. Friday, the two remaining vacancies on the jury panel were filled and three alternates were also selected.

    Jurors that were selected Thursday were sworn in shortly after 2:30 p.m. At 7:35 p.m. Friday, another man and woman were sworn in to serve as jurors in the Gardner trial. Two men and one woman were also sworn in Friday night to serve as alternate jurors in the case.

    Jurors, attorneys on both sides of the case and Circuit Judge Charles “Ed” Clawson Jr. will come together Monday morning as the capital murder trial gears up.

    Gardner is suspected in the March 6, 2016, hotel slaying of Susan “Heather” Stubbs.

    He was accused in Stubbs’ death after a hotel clerk found her lying facedown in Room 114 of Days Inn on Oak Street in Conway. When police arrived, she was found strangled to death from a cord.

    According to an affidavit, Gardner told prosecutors that anger and jealousy caused him to snap the day he allegedly killed Stubbs.

    The two had been staying in Room 114 since Feb. 21 and Gardner said he became upset when he noticed Stubbs talking to other men walking past their room on the day in question.

    Gardner told officers he was still upset with Stubbs from a previous incident, “but had been trying to forgive her for it until this new incident happened,” referencing a Dec. 19 incident where Stubbs filed a third-degree battery report against him.

    “He said he knew that he could not just grab her and throw her on the bed because she would go and tell on him. He said everything just kept building up and he had just snapped. Scotty said the only thing he knew was that he ‘was not going to let Heather go tell the police nothing,’” the affidavit reads.

    At one point during the heated argument, Gardner “eventually grabbed a nearby cord and ‘wrapped it around her neck’” when she tried to scratch him in defense, according to the affidavit.

    “I might have killed her ... I don’t know,” he said, adding he then left to go gambling to avoid thinking about the situation.

    Gardner has been charged as a habitual offender in the past. He was sentenced to Arkansas Department of Corrections (ADC) in October 1991 and served 23 years of his sentence.

    On Nov. 8, 1990, Gardner was charged with two counts of criminal attempt to commit first-degree murder.

    He was sentenced to two 30-year concurrent terms, with seven years of each term suspended.

    The case was later reopened and he was convicted of first-degree criminal attempt to commit murder and one count of first-degree battery for shooting his then-wife, who was pregnant.

    He was paroled from ADC on Dec. 4, 2015, about three months before he allegedly killed Stubbs.

    Jury selection began Tuesday morning in the current capital murder case. Each day court officials and potential jurors filled the courthouse at 8:30 a.m. and continued the voir dire process into the evening hours. The trial is expected to run through Friday, Aug. 24.

    http://www.thecabin.net/news/2018081...h-penalty-case
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    Capital Murder Trial Begins

    centralarkansasnow.com

    Opening statements begin today for the trial of Scotty Ray Gardner.

    Last week, a jury of seven women, five men and three alternates were selected for the capital murder trial in Faulkner County Circuit Court before Judge Charles Clawson Jr.

    57-year old Scotty Ray Gardner is accused of murdering Susan “Heather” Stubbs at the Days Inn Hotel in Conway in March of 2016.

    For the first time in more than 30 years, prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

    http://centralarkansasnow.com/capita...-trial-begins/

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    Murder Conviction in Faulkner County Death Penalty Case

    Late this afternoon a jury convicted Scotty Gardner in the 2016 death of Heather Stubbs.

    Prosecutors say Gardner strangled Stubbs with a cord at a Days Inn motel in Conway.

    Gardner is facing the death penalty.

    The jury will begin deliberating sentencing tomorrow.

    Original story:

    FAULKNER COUNTY, Ark. - The first death penalty case in Faulkner County in 30 years is underway.

    Scotty Gardner is accused of murdering Heather Stubbs.

    Prosecutors say he strangles her at the Days Inn at Oak Street in 2016.

    In opening statements, prosecutors told the jury they would hear what happened to Stubbs from Gardner's own words in a taped confession.

    In its opening statement, the defense pointed out that Gardner and Stubbs were doing drugs.

    "It's time to bring it to closure... we love her and we miss her.... justice will be served," says Jerry Stubbs, Heather Stubbs' Father.

    The trial is scheduled to last through Friday of this week.

    https://www.fox16.com/crime/murder-c...ase/1386273399
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    Gardner gets death sentence

    By Marisa Hicks
    The Log Cabin Democrat

    Scotty Ray Gardner was sentenced to death at 12:38 p.m. Wednesday.

    The Gardner trial was the first death penalty case in Faulkner County in nearly 36 years.

    A jury of seven women and five men deliberated for about 15 minutes Tuesday afternoon before finding Gardner guilty of capital murder in the 2016 strangulation death of Susan “Heather” Stubbs after learning her body hungered for air in her final moments.

    Jurors reconvened with court officials Wednesday morning in Faulkner County Circuit Court to determine whether he would spend the rest of his life behind bars or sentence him to death.

    Tears streamed down the faces of nearly every juror as they listened to victim impact statements prior to determining Gardner’s fate. Family members also wept in the audience as Jerry Stubbs and Victoria Smith took to the stand and told court officials how Heather’s death affects them daily.

    Jerry, who is Heather’s father, shared several photos of Heather, featuring her early years and recalling the days she would sit on his lap in church.

    “When we first got the news, we couldn’t believe it -- it couldn’t be heard. We’ve all had our crying times,” he said as he began to weep while describing a series of photos depicting Heather’s younger days. “We miss her dearly. For the first five or six years [of her life], she only sat in my lap in church.”

    Losing her mother is a struggle that Smith says she battles with constantly.

    A man that dated her mother for five months has caused her a great deal of grief as she faces the loss of her mother every single day, Smith said as she described Gardner as “a nightmare” that stormed into her life and a fool who stole a great woman’s life.

    Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Carol Crews, just as she did with Jerry, allowed Smith to describe the joy she felt in the moments captured on several photos taken of her and her mother. Some of the photos displayed before the court featured Heather and her two sons, Kameron and Keagan. These particular photos of Heather and her boys were taken at Toad Suck Park two days before Gardner strangled her to death with a curling iron cord.

    After listening to one of his ex-wives testify against him Wednesday morning, Gardner became irate and told his attorneys not to have anyone testify on his behalf.

    “Oh, I’m ready to go,” he said at 10:15 a.m. “There’s no one here for me.”

    Gardner’s statements were made minutes after Sue Ordndorff, whom he was married to in April 1990, testified on the pain he’d caused her.

    The couple was legally married for about three years. However, the separated in the fall of 1990 after Gardner attempted to shoot Ordndorff to death.

    Ordndorff said she was six months pregnant with Gardner’s son when he shot her seven times, also striking a friend of hers three times while her 12-year-old son was present.

    She described in detail the fear she felt in the moments leading up to this attack, stating that she knew something didn’t feel right and that she’d asked her friend to travel back with her and stay the night at her home.

    That morning, everything was fine. She and Gardner along with one of her sons went to spend the day with a few of her friends. After several hours had passed, she told Gardner she was ready to leave because she was hungry.

    Although they’d stopped to pick up some food, she said she never got to eat that meal. Instead, she said Gardner spit in her face and proceeded to threaten her at gunpoint.

    “I felt something wasn’t right ... I never got to eat my chicken,” she said as she continued describing one of Gardner’s violent episodes that escalated quickly. “He spit in my face, said, ‘That’s for your Jesus,’ and then he punched me in my mouth.”

    At this point, Ordndorff said her friend began yelling and pleading with Gardner to back off. But it was too late. He ran to grab his rifle, quickly turned around and pointed it at Ordnorff’s stomach, knowing she was pregnant with his son, and then shot her in the back seven times. He was ultimately sentenced to prison and served 23 years behind bars.

    Each of the bullets that struck her are still inside her. She showed jurors where two of the bullets in her hand still rest.

    Per the defendant’s request, the defense counsel did not call anyone to testify on his behalf.

    Instead, attorney Katherine Streett pleaded with jurors not to sentence the 57-year-old man to death.

    “Don’t hold yourself to his standard,” she said, looking at each juror. “You hold the life of another person -- a flawed person -- and you have to decide his fate.”

    Crews reminded jurors before the left the courtroom to deliberate of the pain and suffering Heather endured in her final moments.

    Recalling the testimony given Tuesday by Chief Medical Examiner Charles Kokes from the Arkansas State Crime Lab, she stood before the jury and reminded them that Heather’s body had a natural, primal urge to fight for life.

    “She probably felt this uncertainty more than once,” Crews said, noting that the two first began fighting on the bed before Gardner wrapped the curling iron cord around her neck.

    Following about an hour of deliberations, the jury ultimately sentenced Gardner to death, making him the first man in Faulkner County to be sentenced to death since Ricky Ray Rector was sentenced on Nov. 11, 1982, in Conway officer Robert “Bob” Martin’s shooting death. Rector had been on the run for three days prior to shooting officer Martin after shooting Arthur Criswell in the throat and forehead at the dance hall at Tommy’s Old-Fashioned Home-Style Restaurant in Conway.

    Records show that on March 21, 1981, Rector became angered that one of his friends who was unable to pay the $3 overcharge was not allowed to enter the dance hall before ultimately pulling out a pistol and firing off five shots. After agreeing to turn himself in, Rector demanded Martin be the officer to take him in. The two were to meet at Rector’s mother’s residence. However, while there, Rector shot Martin in the back and then shot himself in the head outside after attempting to flee. The two murders were tried separately. He received a life sentence in Criswell’s death and was sentenced to death for officer Martin’s murder. Rector was executed Jan. 24, 1992.

    Family members cried tears of sadness and relief after jurors handed down a sentence Faulkner County residents haven’t seen in nearly 40 years.

    Heather’s sister Terri Adkison said that while she is saddened of her sister’s death, she hopes this case will bring about change and awareness of the extremities domestic violence can lead to.

    Adkison said the relationship she shared with Heather was unique.

    Because the two were 12 and a half years apart, Heather was like a friend, was ultimately her sister, but also somewhat seemed like a daughter to her, Adkison said.

    The two held each other up in times of need.

    In remembering her sister, Adkison spoke of Heather’s cooking.

    It was a quality the family enjoyed, and something Heather loved doing.

    Typically, she holds herself strong through the rough times. However, going back to Heather’s cooking skills, Adkison said she eventually broke down over Heather’s death while reaching up for a ranch seasoning packet.

    “She made the best taco soup,” Adkison said of her grocery store breakdown. “One day, I was reaching up for a ranch packet at the store and randomly, that memory hit me and that was it, I broke down and started crying in the middle of the store.”

    The packet of ranch seasoning added to the taco soup was her sister’s secret ingredient in making “the best” taco soup, Adkison said.

    While the family has been forced to grieve, Adkison said she hopes to see change following her sister’s death.

    Heather had a kind soul and a forgiving nature. These traits ultimately were Heather’s downfall, Adkison said.

    “She was sweet, kind, forgiving, almost to a fault,” Adkison said, adding that Heather knew of Gardner’s violent history, but forgave him and believed he’d changed his ways.

    Through her sister’s horrific murder, Adkison said she prays other women affected by domestic abuse be encouraged to seek help immediately and not suffer through the pain.

    http://www.thecabin.net/news/2018082...death-sentence
    In the Shadow of Your Wings
    1 A Prayer of David. Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry! Give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit!

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