Mistrial declared in Barry County murder case

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Contact between witness, jury pool resets Circuit Court case

A mistrial has been declared in the case of Matthew Jackson, of Holiday Island, Ark., who is charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action after allegedly stabbing a man to death in Golden in December 2017.

According to a docket sheet from the jury trial on Monday in the courtroom of Judge Jack Goodman, by agreement, the court declared a mistrial due to contact between a witness and the jury pool. The case was reset for a jury trial starting March 25, 2019, with a pretrial conference on Feb. 19, 2019. The jury pool was excused.

Amy Boxx, Barry County prosecutor, said the two charges remain pending, as the case was not dismissed.

“We have not had a problem with lay witnesses having contact with jurors,” she said. “Unfortunately, the building is not always staffed with a sufficient number of bailiffs, and contact has occurred between deputies and the jury pool. I am hopeful that staffing issues will not repeat in the future.”

Gary Davis, Barry County sheriff, said there was inadvertent contact between a deputy and a member of the jury pool. The jury had yet to be seated.

“The bottom line is, as long as we don’t have a full staff of bailiffs, we have to augment with road deputies,” he said. “There is always a potential for something like this to happen until we can afford dedicated bailiffs.”

Davis said the layout of the Judicial Center also presents a challenge, as everyone has to use the same stairwell to get to the courtrooms.

“There is a back entrance, but that goes right into [the Circuit Clerk’s Office], and jurors who went that way would also have to go past inmates, and that’s even worse,” Davis said. “We also would need metal detectors and another bailiff to cover that entrance.”

According to a probable cause report filed by Alvin Zabala, deputy with the Barry County Sheriff’s Office, the incident with Jackson occurred at about 6:50 p.m. at a home in the 29000 area of Highway J in Golden. Jackson allegedly stabbed Steven Chupp with a knife several times, and Chupp was pronounced dead en route to the hospital.

Sheriff Davis said Jackson and Chupp, both from Arkansas, were working an odd job together for the people who owned the home. When deputies arrived, responding to a report of a fight at the scene, ambulance personnel were already treating Chupp, and Jackson was taken into custody.

The probable cause statement said Jackson has a criminal history, and Davis said he has been in multiple states in the past few years.

Jackson remains in the Barry County jail on a cash-only bond of $200,000.

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