Misdemeanor charge: School board candidate accused of drug possession

Saturday, September 16, 2017

A Berryville school board candidate is awaiting trial on a misdemeanor drug charge after being arrested in May.

Wendell Dunbar, 37, is running as a challenger to incumbent Kristi Howerton for a five-year term on the school board.

Dunbar was arrested on May 30 and booked into the Carroll County Detention Center on charges of driving on a suspended license and possession of a controlled substance. The Carroll County District Clerk’s Office said Thursday that Dunbar has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled for trial at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 18.

Carroll County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Kristopher Worrall wrote in an incident report that he noticed Dunbar driving a 2000 Pontiac Firebird just before 10 p.m. on May 30. Worrall wrote that he asked dispatch to check and see if Dunbar had a valid license and was advised that Dunbar’s license was suspended.

Worrall’s report says he initiated a traffic stop and wrote Dunbar a citation for driving on a suspended license. As he approached the vehicle for a second time, Worrall’s report says, he smelled what he believed to be the odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle. According to the report, Worrall asked Dunbar if he had any marijuana in the vehicle and Dunbar said he did not. Worrall says in the report that he asked Dunbar if he was sure, and Dunbar again said there was no marijuana in the car.

Worrall then asked Dunbar to exit the vehicle, the report says, and advised him that Worrall could smell the odor of marijuana. Dunbar then told Worrall that he had a plastic bag of marijuana in the glovebox, the report says.

Worrall’s report says the deputy advised Dunbar that he needed to have someone come and pick up the two children who were in his vehicle. Before Worrall began an inventory of the vehicle, the report says, Dunbar asked to speak with him away from the children. According to the report, Dunbar advised Worrall there was another plastic bag with marijuana in the center console.

Worrall’s report says he did not place Dunbar in cuffs until after Dunbar’s parents had arrived to pick up the children. Dunbar was then taken into custody and transported to the Carroll County Detention Center.

According to the district court, Dunbar was released from jail on a bond of $1,160.

In a separate court proceeding, Dunbar’s former wife, Megan Francis, has filed a petition to modify Dunbar’s visitation with their 7-year-old child. The petition, filed in July in Carroll County Circuit Court, refers to Dunbar’s arrest and asks the court to issue an immediate order halting visitation.

Francis’ petition says Dunbar “appears to be under the influence of some intoxicant as (he) texts (Francis) harassing her and appears to be hallucinating and paranoid.”

On the same day, Francis filed a separate petition, asking the court to order Dunbar to have his fingernails and/or hair tested for drug use.

Dunbar’s civil attorney, Jason Robb of Harrison, filed a motion on Aug. 7, asking the court to dismiss the case because of what Robb describes as a failure to properly serve Dunbar with the petition to modify visitation. A hearing in the civil case is scheduled for 9 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 10, in Eureka Springs.

Dunbar said Thursday that he could not comment. Howerton did not return an email seeking comment.

Early voting in the school election began Tuesday, Sept. 12, and will continue through Monday, Sept. 18. On Tuesday, Sept. 19, polls will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Berryville United Methodist Church at 400 Eureka Ave.

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