Leader Blues

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

TOP STORY >>Accused killer pleads innocent

Leader staff writer

Marlin Marbley, 24, who is accused of beating his longtime live-in girlfriend at the Plantation Village Mobile Home Park in Jacksonville Saturday, remains in jail on a $500,000 bond after he plead not guilty Monday to first-degree murder.

“I’ve been told they have had domestic disturbances before…where, I don’t know,” said Lt. Martin Cass, public information officer for the Jacksonville Police Department. “It’s my understanding that they have just been living in this trailer park since the first of this month.”

Cass said the victim, 24-year-old Cassondra Leigh Speer, died from “one blow to the head,” although no autopsy has been performed yet.

Around 9 a.m. Saturday, Jacksonville police officers were dispatched to 2008 Hwy. 162 South-Lot 34 to asnwer an “unknown domestic disturbance,” according to a JPD press release.

The mobile home was padlocked from the outside and police contacted the local mobile home park manager, who opened up a window and was the first to see the victim lying in the hallway.

The park manager had removed a board from a side window and got a glimpse of a “disturbing sight,” and so did an officer, who notified detectives to secure the murder scene.

“No one else was inside the trailer,” Cass said.

Detectives arrived at the apparent murder scene but no weapons were located leading police to believe Speer had been beaten to death. Her body was transported to the Arkansas Crime Lab for an autopsy.

According to Cass, the murder suspect went to his mother’s house, which is also in Jacksonville, and told her that he had “a fight” with his girlfriend. The suspect’s mother called police and she was concerned about the girlfriend’s welfare, according to Cass.

“I was told she had called the dispatch center and told them there was some kind of disturbance between the couple (Marlin Marbley and Cassondra Speer),” Cass told The Leader.

Marbley was located at a relative’s home in Sherwood at about 11:30 a.m. Saturday and was held on the murder charge at the Sherwood Police Department.

“When he was arrested, he had blood on him,” Cass said.

A group of women who did not want to be identified stood outside the courtroom where Marbley was arraigned Monday. They told The Leader that the couple had been together for five years.

One woman described Marbley as a “good man.”

Another woman said it wasn’t Marbley’s mother who had turned him over to the police but one of Speer’s relatives who had contacted the police after the young woman had failed to show up to her job.

The woman said Marbley’s mother did place a call to local law-enforcement authorities, but the conversation was garbled because of a bad connection.

Speer’s murder is the first homicide in Jacksonville this year.