The Arkansas Court of Appeals in Little Rock denied last week an appeal by a teenager accused of a 2020 murder in Searcy to have a 2019 attempted murder case transferred to juvenile court.
In the majority opinion written by Judge Phillip T. Whiteaker on April 21, the court affirmed that White County Circuit Court did not err in not sending the case against Robert E. Hurd, now 19, to the juvenile division of circuit court.
Whiteaker wrote that “a prosecuting attorney has the discretion to charge a juvenile 16 years of age or older in the juvenile or criminal division of the circuit court if the juvenile has allegedly engaged in conduct that, if committed by an adult, would be a felony.”
Although the juvenile may request a transfer, factors that the circuit court is supposed to consider include the seriousness of the offense and whether it was committed “in an aggressive, violent, premeditated or willful manner.” The circuit court can only transfer the case “upon a finding by clear and convincing evidence that the case should be transferred.”
“Overall, Hurd presented himself as a homeless teenager with a history of substance abuse, but a lack of juvenile history,” Whiteaker wrote, and that he was in need of services available in the juvenile system.
His appeal was based on the circuit court allegedly failing to consider “Hurd’s intellectual disabilities and potential mental-health issues” and failing to address “several rehabilitation opportunities that were available ... that could rehabilitate him.”
“Hurd argues that the court was motivated to punish him and simply disregarded the evidence,” Whiteaker wrote, but the Court of Appeals did “not find the arguments on appeal persuasive. We will not reverse a circuit court’s determination whether to transfer a case unless that decision is clearly erroneous.”
He wrote that the circuit court “considered all the evidence; it did just not weigh it as Hurd desires.” It found that Hurd “had not been diagnosed with ADHD, depression, bipolar disorder or any other mental-health issues” and believed that the rehab programs mentioned “could not rehabilitate Hurd before the expiration of his 21st birthday.”
No new court date in White County Circuit Court has been set for Hurd on the two counts of class A felony criminal attempt to commit murder, which he was charged with after reportedly firing two handguns at a vehicle near the area of Woodlane Drive on Oct. 3, 2019. A male driver and Hurd’s mother reportedly were in the vehicle.
His mother, who identified him as the shooter, said “that they had dropped her son off at an apartment on Woodlane and he had come out and just started shooting at them,” Searcy Police Department Detective Greg Mote wrote in the affidavit.
A media release from the Searcy Police Department stated, “During the course of the initial investigation it was determined that a vehicle was damaged and the victim had suffered minor injuries from flying debris.” Whiteaker wrote that the non-life-threatening injury was to the victim’s neck.
A little more than six months after that shooting incident, Hurd, who had been living in Searcy, reportedly shot and killed 38-year-old Eric Kalas of Searcy the afternoon of April 29, 2020, at a residence on Randall Drive. He reportedly fled to West Memphis, where he was arrested outside the residence of a family member May 14.
Hurd is facing charges of class Y capital murder and class D felony theft of property in that case. A pre-trial hearing is set for June 2 at 9 a.m.
According to the affidavit written by Detective Tim Smith of the Searcy Police Department, Kalas was found April 29 “on the ground in front of the residence with multiple gunshot wounds. Officers kept pressure on the wounds until EMS personnel arrived and transported Mr. Kalas to Unity Health ER, where he later died of his wounds.”
Officers reportedly obtained a search warrant for the residence and interviewed a witness who said he was at the residence at the time of the murder and saw Hurd shoot Kalas multiple times.
According to the affidavit, the witness said he and Hurd had been staying at the residence with the homeowner for a while and Kalas had come by to visit with the homeowner. The witness reportedly was told by Hurd, “I am about to crash out today.” He reportedly responded, “Bro no, quit with that [expletive].”
The next thing he looked over and saw, Smith wrote, is Hurd pointing a red Tec-9 at Kalas and Hurd saying, “Give me yo strap before I kill you.” The witness reportedly said that Hurd said it two times, and that is when he saw Hurd shoot Kalas. The witness reportedly explained that “crash out” is a street term for shooting someone and “strap” was a handgun.
Smith wrote that the witness said Kalas previously had shown them a Springfield 9mm handgun and was known to carry it for self-defense.
“Witness 1 also demonstrated for detectives Hurd’s action and explained that Hurd was at the threshold of the open front door facing out and Kalas was facing Hurd either on the porch or just off it,” Smith wrote.
After the shots were fired by Hurd, he ran out the back door of the residence and “he was scared for his life,” the witness reportedly said. When officers arrived at the scene, “the handgun that Kalas was known to carry was missing, and has been entered into ACIC/NCIC as stolen,” Smith wrote.