Guilty pleas bring 20-year sentences in Gerrard murder
Two men pled guilty Monday to reduced charges of first degree murder for the shooting death of a rural Green Forest man and were each sentenced to 20 years in prison Monday morning in circuit court action in Berryville.
Brandon Lee "Buffalo" Webb, 22, of Goodson, Mo., formerly of Green Forest, and David Coy Greenhaw, 26, of Springdale admitted to firing shots that resulted in the death of Richard W. Gerrard Jr., in the doorway of his residence on June 4, 2003.
As of Wednesday, the case was scheduled to go to trial on Monday, but during the extended Thanksgiving holiday the plea agreement was reached and the jury was notified of the trail's cancellation late Friday.
According to court records, Gerrard was killed by four .22 caliber gunshot wounds to the upper body, head and neck.
A third defendant in the case, Leslie Keith Ward, 36, of Petal, Miss., pled out on a reduced murder conspiracy charge earlier this year and was given a 30-year prison sentence with 12 years suspended. Ward maintained that he was with the other two men in an effort to prevent them from killing Gerrard, and was to have testified at their trial.
Greenhaw and Webb will have to serve 70 percent of their sentence, or 14 years, before they are eligible for parole. They each received 362 days credit for time served awaiting trial.
Ward will have to serve 70 percent of the 18 years which was not suspended, and then will remain under supervision by the state for the balance of his 30-year term.
Prosecutor Tony Rogers said the case was tough. "Obviously no plea would have been reached unless both sides compromised a bit," he said.
Singling out Alan Hoos and Ralph Gordon of the Criminal Investigation Division of the county sheriff's office, Rogers said that "all the credit for the guilty pleas should be given to our investigators."
He further stated that the plea had been discussed with both law enforcement of Gerrard's family members. "I believe we got the people who actually perpetrated the act."
While Gerrard had at one time served as an informant for law enforcement, drugs were not directly involved in his death, Rogers said. He hypothesized that motives for the killings might have been revenge on the part of Webb, and passion on the part of Greenhaw.
Gerrard had apparently been trying to see Greenhaw's girlfriend just hours before he was killed.
The three co-defendants were initially charged with capital murder, but a death penalty could not be sought because there was no apparent mitigating purpose in shooting Gerrard other than to kill him.