Leader Blues

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

TOP STORY >> Cellmates accused in killing prisoner

By JOHN HOFHEIMER
Leader senior staff writer

Three former cellmates of Jerry Dale Luker — all Lonoke County residents — were charged with second-degree murder Friday in his death, which resulted from an incident in the Lonoke County Jail last October, according to Prosecuting Attorney Will Feland.

Feland also charged the three — Eddie Thomas Buchy, 29, of Ward, David Chad Lane, 32, of Cabot and Wesley May Minnie, 22, of Cabot — with engaging in violent criminal-group activity and with being habitual criminals. Both charges are sentence enhancers.

The habitual-criminal charge is for defendants previously convicted of four or more felonies, making them subject to an extended term of imprisonment.

Engaging in violent criminal-group activity occurs when someone acts in concert with two or more others. It also enhances penalties.

“I can’t elaborate on the circumstances,” Feland said, except “they were all in the samejail cell with the deceased.” The charges followed an investigation into Luker’s death by the State Police.

The three men will appear in court at 9 a.m. Jan. 25 for plea and arraignment.

Luker, 34, a Lonoke resident, died as the result of a major head injury. He was committed to the state Correction Department to serve a 36-month sentence for fraudulent use of a credit card and felony probation violations, according to the Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office.

While in custody in Lonoke, but before he was transferred to the Correction Depart-ment, he received a head injury while in the restroom area of the cellblock, according to a report.

Buchy is serving 36 months in the Correction Department’s Pine Bluff Unit for convictions of theft by receiving, manufacture and delivery of a controlled substance, fraud/possession of drug paraphernalia and probation revocation.

Lane is serving eight years in the Tucker Maximum Security Unit for charges dating back as far as January 1998, including residential burglary, probation revocation, theft of property, manufacture, delivery and possession of a controlled substance, tampering with evidence and absconding.

Minnie is in the Cummins Unit, sentenced to five years for crimes including sexual indecency with a child, residential burglary, possession of drug paraphernalia, theft of property, breaking and entering, theft by receiving, failure to register and probation revocation.