A motion to sever from two other Fort Smith teens as co-defendants in a pending murder trial recently was filed in Sebastian County Circuit Court for Shakur Sharp.
Sharp, 18, his half brother, James Sharp Jr., 16, and Dionte Parks, 17, are all charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping and armed burglary in connection with a homicide at 4700 Windsor Drive on Jan. 23, 2016.
All three defendants were denied a transfer to juvenile court in April. Earlier this month, attorneys for Parks and James Sharp Jr. appealed the decision by Circuit Judge Stephen Tabor.
In his motion to sever, Shakur Sharp’s attorney, Leonardo Monterrey of Monterrey Law Firm in North Little Rock, noted the “levels of culpability for each defendant in this case are substantially different” and a severance was needed to promote a fair trial.
Monterrey “anticipates that defenses of the separate defendants will be antagonistic and that trial strategies of the defendants will likely be conflicting.”
Rita Watkins of the Office of the Public Defender in Fort Smith said in the juvenile transfer hearing that although Parks gave the Sharp brothers a hooded sweatshirt, duffel bag and shoelace to tie up the victim, 22-year-old Kaleb Watson, Parks only knocked on the front door as a distraction for the Sharps to enter another door in Watson’s apartment. Watson was Parks’ neighbor.
Kristin Pawlik of Keith, Miller, Butler, Schneider & Pawlik law firm in Rogers represents James Sharp Jr.
Tabor issued each of the defendants a ruling April 11 that stated insufficient evidence had been shown that juvenile division programs could rehabilitate the juveniles before they turn 21.