Dionte Parks, one of three Fort Smith men charged in the 2016 slaying of Kaleb Watson, began his first day of a jury trial Monday at the Sebastian County Courts Building.
Parks, now 18, was 15 in January 2016 when prosecutors say he helped Shakur and James Sharp in a robbery-turned-murder of 22-year-old Kaleb Watson next to Parks’ apartment on Windsor Drive. Watson was an engineering student at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith.
While the prosecution asserts Parks pointed the Sharp brothers to Watson’s apartment for drugs, guns and money, the defense will attempt to persuade the six-woman, six-man jury that Parks is innocent and simply provided the brothers with a shoelace and a bag for the robbery, but had nothing else to do with it. Parks has admitted to knocking on Watson's front door as a diversion.
The trial is expected to continue through Thursday. Jurors watched a one-hour recorded interview Monday in which Parks and his mother spoke to police. Parks' mother expressed genuine shock at the police station when Parks told the detective he hid a hunting bow in his room for the Sharp brothers after it was stolen from Watson's truck.
A gag order was placed on three of the trials. Shakur Sharp was sentenced in October to 50 years in prison. James Sharp has yet to go to trial, having appealed the denial of a juvenile transfer hearing by Sebastian County Circuit Judge Stephen Tabor that would have kept his trial from public view. Parks' public defender had also appealed the juvenile transfer hearing.