Linker released on bond after Friday hearing

Friday, August 30, 2019

By Scott Loftis

Joseph Linker, the Eureka Springs man who faces multiple charges including rape and kidnapping, was released from the Carroll County Detention Center on Friday, Aug. 23, after a judge reinstated his original $50,000 bond.

Linker, 43, had been held in the county jail since July 8 after he was arrested for allegedly violating a court order to have no contact with his alleged victim.

He was originally arrested May 24, after his former live-in girlfriend told police that he held her against her will and raped her multiple times on May 14-15 at the apartment they shared in Eureka Springs.

After a hearing Friday morning at the Carroll County Western District Courthouse in Eureka Springs, Special Circuit Judge Gary Arnold granted a defense request to reinstate Linker’s original $50,000 bond. Prosecutors had asked Arnold to set a new bond at $100,000.

Public defender Beau Allen, who represents Linker, presented several witnesses who disputed the alleged victim’s version of events regarding the alleged violations of the no-contact order, as well as the original allegations in the rape case.

Among the witnesses were an acquaintance of Linker’s and a downtown shop owner who both testified that when Linker saw the alleged victim in the area on the afternoon of June 28, he immediately left the area. Under cross-examination from deputy prosecuting attorney Craig Parker, both witnesses acknowledged it was possible that Linker had returned to the area without their knowledge.

Allen also called a client of Linker’s tattoo shop, who testified that she went to the shop between 10 and 10:30 a.m. on the morning of May 15. From outside the shop, she testified, she heard the alleged victim yelling and cursing at Linker: “I can’t believe you packed my s**t up,” and “Hit me.”

The witness testified that she left the shop but returned a short time later and Linker asked her to give him some time. She stayed in downtown Eureka Springs for several hours, the witness testified, and walked past the tattoo shop on multiple occasions. During the course of the afternoon, she said she saw the alleged victim throwing bags out the door and later placing them in her vehicle.

Linker’s ex-wife, Melanie Naumann, testified that she told Linker that their son would not be allowed to stay overnight at Linker’s apartment as long as the alleged victim lived there.

Naumann testified that Linker is “an awesome dad,” and described him as “the most passive, calm, non-confrontational person.”

Naumann and several others in the courtroom wore large yellow buttons with green script that read “Justice for Joseph.”

Linker has pleaded not guilty. He testified at Friday’s hearing that he did not violate the no-contact order and that he would live with his father in the Little Rock area if he was released on bond. He said he would appear in court as ordered and would have no contact with the alleged victim.

Linker’s father, Billy, testified that he would make sure Linker is present for all scheduled court appearances.

Rebecca Thomas of Bryce’s Bail Bonding testified that the bond company would reinstate Linker’s original $50,000 bond if allowed to do so by the court.

Before issuing his ruling, Arnold said the pending rape case is not unlike most rape cases.

“Virtually every rape case is difficult for the state to prove,” he said. “… I don’t think the state’s case here is any weaker or stronger than most rape cases. She says he did and he says he didn’t. That’s basically the bottom line in every rape case.”

If the case reaches a jury trial, Arnold said, it will be up to the jury to decide who is telling the truth.

“The credibility of witnesses is generally the province of the jury,” he said. “The jury is the one who decides who to believe and who not to believe. That’s not what I do.”

Before reinstating Linker’s $50,000 bond, Arnold emphasized that he can have no contact with the alleged victim.

“My biggest concern … is any contact with the victim, any whatsoever,” Arnold said. “The willingness of the defendant to live in Pulaski County, 200 miles away; the willingness of his bondsman to stay on the bond under those conditions, make me feel more comfortable about the unlikelihood that he will contact, in any manner, the (alleged victim).”

Linker was released from the county jail Friday afternoon.

Both Allen and Carroll County Prosecuting Attorney Tony Rogers declined to comment after Friday’s hearing.

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