A Bald Knob 20-year-old who threatened to kill himself and a couple of police officers last year was sentenced to five years in prison last week.
Robert Stephen Rutherford pleaded guilty June 8 in a negotiated deal in White County Circuit Court to two counts of first-degree terroristic threatening, a class D felony; aggravated assault, a class D felony; six counts of class D felony breaking or entering; and probation revocation. His five years in the Arkansas Department of Correction for each offense run concurrently.
He had been in jail since June 17, 2020, and received 350 days of jail credit.
On June 16, 2020, Rutherford was confronted by Bald Knob police officers in the Second and Elm streets area after “physically attacking someone” at a residence on Vine Street, according to the affidavit. The officers told Rutherford to “stop walking,” and when they saw that he was holding a knife, they drew weapons and told him to “drop his weapon.”
Rutherford “came toward the officers with his weapon and then turned and started walking down the roadway.” As the officers “made their way” toward him, Rutherford screamed that he would kill them and himself. A Tazer was deployed but “failed to make proper contact.”
Rutherford’s father, who had followed behind him in a vehicle running hazard lights and who was on the scene with other family members, then “grabbed Robert from the back and took him to the ground as officers placed handcuffs on” Rutherford.
Rutherford was taken to the Unity Health-White County Medical Center Emergency Room after saying that he couldn’t breath. Then, he was taken to the White County Detention Center, where he was preliminarily charged with four counts of aggravated assault.
The incident came a month after Rutherford broke into Bald Knob Public Schools. He was identified in video footage after an officer found “several Powerade, Sprite and Mello Yello bottles laying outside on the ground at the east end of the nurse’s halfway” along with “a pair of cloth gloves and a removable stereo face plate.” The footage showed Rutherford moving throughout the campus from 9-11 p.m. March 14, leaving the football concession stand “with a trash bag over his shoulder” and going through and taking items from five buses.
Rutherford reportedly told officers that he wasn’t at the school, but had walked by it after being at a friend’s house earlier that day. The juvenile friend reportedly said that Rutherford was there “the day of the incident and the morning after” and said “that he was probably going back to jail for being back up at the school; however, he was going to try to get out of it.”
Another witness reportedly described Rutherford as wearing clothing “consistent with video footage,” and a third witness said that Rutherford had “been at his house ... talking about breaking into the school.” Rutherford had “used a knife to gain access into the concession stand,” according to the third witness, and had told him that he took “earbuds and a ‘ton’ of drinks.”
The third witness also provided video of Rutherford saying “that he broke into the school and stole numerous items, including a phone and a charger.”
Also, in December 2019, Rutherford threw a rock and “what appeared to be a concrete water meter cover” threw a window at the Jiffy Jerry’s gas station on Highway Avenue, according to the Rutherford. Video surveillance showed Rutherford climb in through the window after breaking it, then circle around the counter, “punching a plastic display box for the Juul electronic cigarette.” He left with “an unknown number of items,” before returning “a short time later” to strike another display, which fell, hitting him in the face. He left with more times, making the total stolen around $1,404.
He was sentenced to a year’s probation for class A misdemeanor theft of property and six years of probation for class C felony commercial burglary May 5, 2020, just over a week before the school break-in.
As part of his plea deal in the December 2019 case, the 17th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney’s Office had nolle prossed a class C felony attempted residential burglary charge filed against Rutherford on Sept. 24, 2019.
In a separate case, Jimmy D. Skinner, 41, of Searcy pleaded guilty last week to two counts of first-degree terroristic threatening and was sentenced to four years of probation.
Skinner reportedly threatened to kill his wife Sept. 27, 2020, while holding a rifle because “he believed she was ‘flirting’ with” a friend. He then put the rifle down, picked up a tire iron and threatened both of them. Skinner’s father confirmed both threats, while the friend said Skinner had told him “he was going to ‘kill him’” while threatening him with the tire iron.
Skinner’s wife also reportedly told White County deputies that Skinner “had choked her, restricting her airway” while they were fighting earlier.