Leader Blues

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

TOP STORY >> Trial set for killing by 3 in Lonoke jail

By JOHN HOFHEIMER
Leader senior staff writer

David Lane and Wesley Minnie of Cabot and Eddie Buchy of Ward entered not guilty pleas Monday to second-degree murder of Jerry Luker while the four were cellmates in the Lonoke County Jail.

Luker, 34, of Lonoke was taken to a Little Rock hospital where he later died of head injuries in October.

The co-defendants Buchy, Lane and Minnie pleaded not guilty to engaging in violent criminal-group activity and to being habitual criminals.

Circuit Judge Phillip Whiteaker set an omnibus hearing for the three men for 1 p.m. Feb. 16. Any motion to separate the trials would likely come at that hearing.

Whiteaker set the pretrial hearing for April 26 and the trial for April 27 - 28.

Lonoke County Prosecutor Will Feland has declined to elaborate on the circumstances of Luker’s death in Oct. except to say the three defendants were all in the same cell as Luker and that the charges followed an investigation by the Arkansas State Police.

Luker died as the result of a major head injury. He had been 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, before he was to be transferred to the Correction Department, he received a head injury in the restroom area of the cellblock, according to the State Police.

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.