Allred murder trial set for mid-January

Thursday, November 9, 2006

BERRYVILLE -- Two separate Eastern?District jury panels, the current one and another to be seated in February, will hear the murder, then the witness bribery, cases against Richell?Dawn?Allred, 25, of Ozark, Mo., formerly of the Pension Mountain area.

Allred is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of David Harkrider, whose charred remains were found in his burned-out Oldsmobile Bravada on Nov. 26, 2004.

She is further charged with four counts of witness bribery and one count of conspiracy to bribe a witness, allegedly to cover up her involvement in Harkrider's death.

Monday afternoon, the jury trial on the bribery charges was set to start on Feb. 9, following the seating of a new jury panel. That trial is estimated by Defense Attorney?Erin?Couch to take about three days.

The murder case, estimated to take two weeks, is scheduled to get under way on Jan. 15.

Monday afternoon's hearing was held, in part, to address a motion by Allred's former attorney,?Charles M. Kester, of Fayetteville, to take possession of boxes of information not being used in the criminal cases against Allred, or by the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service in another investigation.

The motion was granted after Prosecutor Tony?Rogers outlined the chain of possession of the boxes from the time he received them from Jud Shepherd to the time of Monday's hearing. The information was perused by Pulaski County officials to determine what might and might not be privileged information.

The boxes were not provided in response to a subpoena or a request, Rogers said, and were subsequently reviewed by the federal government.

In the bribery case, in which the prosecutor's file is closed, it was determined that electronic surveillance had been supplied to the defense, and that all offers of leniency for witnesses have been revealed.

For awhile, there appeared to be some difference of feeling between Rogers and Couch about which case should be heard first, with Couch saying that the bribery case should be done after the murder case as the media is following proceedings so closely, and coverage of the bribery case would result in trying her twice in the media.

There's a newspaper article every time we do anything," she said.

Circuit Judge Alan D. Epley noted the difficulty in finding two weeks to hear the murder case, and indicated he would not consider moving it, scheduling a pre-trial hearing in the bribery case to take place at the conclusion of it.

There will be 250 prospective jurors called up for the new term to start on Feb. 9, with juror selection for the bribery case to start at about 11 a.m. that day.

George Russell?Felice, 41, of Berryville, was initially charged with capital murder in the death of Harkrider, In July 2005 he turned state's evidence on Allred and pleaded guilty to tampering with physical evidence and arson, receiving a 20-year prison sentence.

Between January and May of this year, Allred allegedly bribed witnesses to testify to implicate Felice, producing almost $10,000 in payments. The incident resulted in the disbarment of Harrison attorney Jerry Shepherd, who she allegedly used to front some of the money.

Principles in the cases are under gag orders.

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