A Bradley County jury deliberated only 10 minutes Wednesday before finding Laron Hayes, Jr. guilty of first-degree murder, aggravated assault and terroristic threatening in the December 2017 shooting death of an El Dorado man.
Hayes, 37, of Bradley County, shot Colby Allen Rice, 31, of El Dorado in the head the day after Christmas 2017. Hayes was sentenced to life in prison, plus 33 years, and fined $30,000. The judge ordered the sentences to run consecutive.
The murder took place at a camp in Bradley County after Rice and a witness, Jeff Woodall, tried to prevent Hayes from leaving the camp because he had been drinking. Woodall testified that Rice tried to get Hayes’ keys from him as Hayes was sitting in his Jeep. Woodall said Hayes stopped Rice, reached in the console of his vehicle and pulled out a pistol. Hayes then said, “watch this, Woodall,” and shot Rice in the head.
Woodall said he attempted to call 911, but Hayes chased him while pointing the pistol at him. Hayes fell, giving Woodall the opportunity to run to a nearby house where 911 was called.
Additional testimony revealed that Hayes called multiple people, including Scott Pope. Hayes told Pope that he had killed Rice. The jury heard a portion of a recorded phone conversation between Hayes and Pope. In that conversation, Hayes asked Pope’s location so that he could “get” him too. Also, Micheal Tullos testified that Hayes followed him and pointed a long gun at him.
When Hayes was arrested law enforcement officers conducted a search of Hayes’ vehicle where they discovered a loaded glock pistol, an extra magazine, a shotgun loaded with slugs, and extra ammunition for both guns.
Experts from the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory testified about evidence they tested, such as gunshot residue, blood, DNA found on Hayes’ shirt; the shell casing found at the scene that was fired from the gun recovered from Hayes’ jeep; and fingerprints found at the scene of the murder.
Dr. Charles Kokes, the chief medical examiner, testified that the gunshot was a contact wound.
Hayes received a life sentence for the murder, with an additional 15-year prison sentence for committing the offense with a firearm. He received six year sentences for each of two counts aggravated assault and one count of first-degree terroristic threatening. He was also fined $10,000 each for count of aggravated assault and terroristic threatening.
The state was represented by 10th Judicial District Chief Deputy Prosecutor Frank Spain and deputy prosecutor Sandra Bradshaw, who thanked the jury members for their service and lauded the work of the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office, Warren Police Department, State Police, and the State Crime Laboratory.