Murder suspect looking to lockdown pre-trail publicity in upcoming case
A Fort Smith resident who faces several felony charges, including a First Degree Murder count in the death of 34-year-old Stephen Basham in Hackett, petitioned the court this past week to prohibit pre-trial publicity in his upcoming court events.
Jeffery Allen Workman, 45, remains in the Sebastian County Detention Center on a $500,000 bond after he and Jennifer Renee Martin, 39, of Fort Smith allegedly killed Basham in a shooting on February 14 at a Hackett apartment complex.
Workman was charged with Murder in the First Degree, Battery in the First Degree, Possession of Firearms by Certain Persons and Aggravated Residential Burglary. Martin remains jailed on a $500,000 bond for Murder in the First Degree and Battery in the First Degree charges.
The Prosecutor's office and the legal representation for Workman agreed to allow the court to review the file and submit an order based on their findings.
Faced with court decisions that make it difficult to prevent the media from reporting pretrial information, courts have several ways of overcoming prejudicial pretrial publicity.
One common tactic is for the court to issue an order prohibiting the prosecutor, the defense attorney, and other trial participants from making public comments about the case.
Courts often permit extensive juror questionnaires that give both sides the chance to identify persons who have been exposed to pretrial publicity and who have already made up their minds about the guilt or innocence of the defendant.
A court also may sequester the jury during the course of the trial. Another tactic is to postpone the trial until publicity dies down. In rare cases a court will change the venue of the trial to a locale less affected by the pretrial publicity.
The shooting occurred at around 5:30 a, on February 14 and three juveniles and a woman were in the apartment at the time of the incident. They were all unharmed, according to law enforcement officials.
The injured individual was struck with a baseball bat by the suspect --described as a tall, white male wearing a white hoodie -- prior to the shooting, which occurred in a second floor bedroom.
Police located Basham deceased in a bed in the second floor bedroom.
Workman is no stranger to law enforcement officials in the River Valley. Workman was free on bond pending a trial in Crawford County for a September arrest on two counts of Possession of a Controlled Substance and one count of Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. Workman was released on a $15,000 bond after public defender Ryan Norris was able to successfully secure a bond reduction.
Workman also has two other drug related felony convictions out of Sebastian County and was part of a case with a female suspect where they were both charged with Possessing or Manufacturing Paraphernalia Meth/Cocaine in 2015. It appears the female took a negotiated guilty deal where a number of charges were dismissed and she wound up with a 24-month sentence on a revocation.
All charges against Workman were dropped in that case.