The former Bald Knob police chief who was federally indicted in 2015 is facing several new criminal charges, including stalking.
A warrant was issued recently for Erek Lynn Balentine, 36, on the first-degree class C felony charge along with possession of depressant and stimulant drugs without a prescription, an unclassified felony, and two misdemeanors (violation of an order of protection and harassing communications).
A pretrial hearing has been set for Sept. 8 in White County Circuit Court for Balentine, who was not in the White County jail Monday.
According to the affidavit written by White County Sheriff’s Office Detective Cpl. Heather Meadows, the alleged victim reported that Balentine had called her March 15 from a blocked number and said he was going to “shoot himself over the phone so she could hear the gunshot.” Then, on May 8, he reportedly showed up at her residence on Velvet Ridge Road, threatened her male guests, “made suicidal threats and then took a handful of what appeared to be prescription pills out a medicine bottle and left.”
He did that despite an order of protection against him, Meadows wrote, and drove off in an unsafe manner. On the phone with the alleged victim, he reportedly “was gagging and indicating ‘it was getting dark’ and told her he was dying.” Videos he sent her reportedly showed him driving at speeds up to 110 mph.
When Balentine was found, he reportedly said that he had taken “a mouthful of white Altoid mints out of a prescription bottle in front of” the alleged victim, and had gone to the alleged victim’s workplace a couple of weeks earlier “to make her talk to him.”
The alleged victim reportedly said that at her place of business May 10, Balentine was “pushing and shoving her in the parking lot and trying to force her to give him a hug.” She reportedly fled into the building, but Balentine “pushed his way in the door and refused to leave unless she returned to talk to him.”
She reportedly had received “hundreds of calls and messages” from Balentine since Feb. 8, which included “digital pictures of cemeteries, a photo of her mother’s camper with an indirect threat to burn it down, suicidal messages and video recordings, and admissions of at-risk behavior that had repeatedly caused the victim anxiety, fear and loss of sleep.”
Balentine was promoted to police chief from assistant chief in Bald Knob on Jan. 1, 2015, and resigned that September after his personal vehicle was burned in his driveway. After being investigated for arson, he pleaded guilty in a negotiated deal to a stolen firearm charge in Little Rock federal court concerning a shotgun that was donated to be auctioned and was sentenced in 2016 to six months of house arrest and three years of probation.
Balentine’s truck had been set on fire Sept. 14 and “2 Amendment” spray-painted on both sides, in reference to some issues the city was having with open-carry advocates. Balentine was ordered to pay restitution in federal court after receiving a total of $12,986.71 from insurance claims related to the fire.
The stolen firearm charge arose during the investigation by the Arkansas State Police and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives into the burning of Balentine’s vehicle.
Balentine is not allowed to serve in law enforcement or possess a firearm.
A warrant also was issued for a 46-year-old from Judsonia on a charge of first-degree terroristic threatening. Jeremy Robbin Wright was set to appear in court for plea and arraignment this morning, but was not in the White County jail Monday.
Wright reportedly sent “a number of concerning text messages” to his estranged wife, including some threatening to kill her. The alleged victim reported the threats April 15 and requested an order of protection, Meadows wrote in the affidavit.
The alleged victim reportedly said that Wright, who also had sent a photo with what appeared to be the barrel of a rifle in his mouth, “was verbally abusive and she had endured similar coercive control tactics and emotional manipulation from him many times in the past.”
More messages and a video clip were submitted by the alleged victim April 20, with Wright saying “I see u I kill u dead” and also “placing a shotgun on the table pointed at himself,” Meadows wrote. He was arrested April 21 and served a no-contact order.
A 52-year-old from Searcy officially has been charged with first-degree battery-aggravated circumstances, a class B felony, and third-degree battery, a class A misdemeanor. Charles Delmar Sexton was not in the White County Detention Center on Monday, but was scheduled to appear in White County Circuit Court this morning for plea and arraignment.
Sexton reportedly threw a Lysol can at his ex-wife during an altercation June 19, cutting open her thumb and then hit his son’s girlfriend in the face several times, knocking out two teeth.
Deputies were called to the residence on Mt. Pisgah Road in Letona and saw Sexton attempting to kick in the door, Detective Misty Goss wrote in the affidavit. He complied with commands from the deputies and was arrested.
After the alleged victims reportedly said that Sexton “became physically violent with them both,” deputies observed that one had a cut thumb and the other had “blood and scratches to the neck and blood from the mouth.” Witnesses provided similar accounts, Goss wrote.
Sexton’s criminal history showed “a history of domestic violence incidents, some of which involve these same victims.”
A 27-year-old Kensett man also has been charged with first-degree terroristic threatening, a class D felony, and harassing communications. Jonathan Escobedo was charged as a habitual offender. No court date has been set, and Escobedo was not in custody in the White County jail Monday.
The alleged victim reportedly told Meadows on April 5 that she was “being harassed and threatened by an ex-boyfriend,” who reportedly had taken her to a Little Rock hotel March 20 and beaten her. Meadows wrote in the affidavit that the alleged victim “was covered in bruises on her face and neck,” which the alleged victim said was “residual injuries caused on that date.”
Since then, she reportedly “had been receiving threatening messages” from Escobedo. Meadows wrote that some of the messages, which started March 31 “and continued through this date,” contained both direct and indirect threats, while “others appeared to be admissions of guilt or remorse.”
When the alleged victim didn’t respond to the harassing messages, Escobedo “would send messages more threatening in nature.”
A 58-year-old from Searcy also was set to appear in court this morning after being charged with second-degree domestic battery, a class C felony. Rickey Lynn Hammons was not in custody in White County on Monday.
According to the affidavit written by Searcy Police Department Detective Kara Osborne, officers went to a residence on North Clinic Street on June 22. The alleged victim, a pre-teenager, reportedly said that she had been held down and struck in the face twice “with an open hand” by her mother’s “significant other.”
The alleged victim reportedly had injuries “consistent with her statement.” Hammons also reportedly said “the altercation was the result of a verbal argument that escalated.”
An 86-year-old Judsonia man is facing 14 counts of first-degree terroristic threatening, a class D felony, with enhanced penalties for offenses committed in the presence of a child. Jim Junior Reed was set to appear in court today, but was not in custody at the county jail Monday.
According to the affidavit written by Detective Chris L. Ellis of the sheriff’s office, Reed is accused of “threatening to shoot several children” at a residence on Denny Street on June 12 during a birthday party. One of the alleged victims reportedly said that Reed “began ‘going crazy’” during the party, taking out a gun and threatening “to ‘kill the kids’ if they did not leave his property.”
The alleged victim also reportedly said that Reed “pointed the gun in her face and pulled the trigger, but the weapon did not fire.” It was determined that the gun used by Reed was a BB gun that “was not loaded,” but “the victims had no way of knowing this at the time of the incident.”
Reed reportedly said that he did make the threats “because they would not leave.”