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Man Enters Guilty Plea to Murder in Marion County

By: Staff
Posted: Thursday, January 13, 2011

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A plea agreement yesterday in Marion County Circuit Court has resulted in a Baxter County man being sentenced to life in prison on a first-degree murder charge relating to the shooting death last year of a Marion County man.

Fourteenth District Prosecuting Attorney Ron Kincade confirmed that 21-year-old Justin Kent of Midway entered a guilty plea to a reduced charge of first-degree murder in Yellville before Circuit Judge John Putman. Kent was charged last April in the shooting death of 38-year-old David Searles of Rea Valley at Searles' residence.

Kincade said the family of Searles had agreed to the plea reached between Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Kenford Carter and defense attorneys Christopher Nebber and Teri Chambers. Kincade elaborated on the decision to reduce the charge down to first-degree murder from capital murder.

Prosecuting Attorney Ron Kincade...

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Kincade said Kent and Searles were friends, but had gotten into an argument apparently over a horse. He said Kent admitted to shooting Searles in the head last April after Searles had gone to bed.

Kent returned to the Searles residence the day after the shooting and before Searles body was discovered.  Kent then took Searles' truck, credit cards, and other items. Kent was arrested in Mountain Home a few days after Searles' body was found. He was still driving the victim's pickup.

Kincade said the plea agreement also covered theft charges.

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