PARAGOULD, Ark. – The decision has been made not to prosecute a man who fired a shot, hitting a man who had apparently driven to his house to start a fight in 2014.
No one died in the incident but the story received recent media attention from The Jonesboro Sun after the family of the man who was shot said the suspect was not being brought to justice.
Second Judicial District Prosecutor Scott Ellington released a letter containing his decision to NEA Report on Tuesday afternoon. In the letter to Paragould Police Chief Todd Stovall, Ellington wrote that the case had been assigned to his deputy prosecutor, Charles Finkenbinder, who had been reluctant to take the case to trial.
Once Ellington reviewed it, he said he understood why.
Ivey Herren, Jr. was charged with battery in the first degree after shooting Alex Wells in 2014 but when Ellington reviewed the case, it wasn’t as cut and dry. Wells, drinking and bringing friends and weapons along, visited the home of Herren with bad intentions, Ellington said, leading to what was not perceived as an intention shooting of Wells. However, Ellington said the facts were that it took place in Herren’s front yard and even if he had the opportunity to retreat, he also had a right to defend himself.
“There is no question that Mr. Wells would not have gotten shot that night had he not gone to Mr. Herren’s home to avenge the hurt feelings of Mr. Herren’s former girlfriend,” Ellington said. “Mr. Wells could have better helped the aggrieved female by encouraging her to obtain the services of the court system. Instead, he decided to take the law into his own hands and interjected himself into a text message argument originally between the female and Herren. There were threats exchanged between Mr. Herren and Mr. Wells, which escalated into Mr. Wells traveling across snow and ice covered roads to have it out with Mr. Herren at Herren’s home.”
Ellington said Wells also admitted to needing a sober driver. Witnesses indicated Wells jumped out of a pickup truck and headed straight toward Herren’s home. Herrin, holding a pistol, tried to strike Wells and somehow, shot him in the motion. Ellington did not believe it was intentional.
“Because the wound entered from the top of Wells’s back, traveled downward and exited in the middle area of his back, Herren’s explanation seems likely,” Ellington wrote. “If Herren had set out to shoot Wells, he more than likely would have shot him point blank with the bullet entering his front and exiting out his back.”
Paragould police discovered several weapons in Wells’s pickup, including a rifle, a shotgun, and brass knuckles.
According to Arkansas law, a person is justified in using “deadly physical force upon another person if the person reasonably believes” that the assailant is about to commit a felony involving force or violence, unless the person can retreat. However, the law states “a person is not required to retreat if the person is: (I) In the person’s dwelling or on the curtilage surrounding the person’s dwelling and was not the original aggressor.” A front yard would be considered a curtilage, under the law, according to the definition.
“In this case, there is some question whether Herren could have retreated with complete safety as Wells was quickly upon him as they met in Herren’s yard,” Ellington wrote. “However, I need not split hairs on the issue of retreating with complete safety due to Herren being in his own front yard and therefore not required to retreat into his home. I think a jury would struggle with finding justice due to the facts of this case. I, myself, struggle to find justice in prosecuting an individual who was engaged by one of three adult males on his own property, especially when those three individuals had two long guns and a set of brass knuckles with them. It is apparent that Mr. Wells, his brother and the other individual came looking for a fight at Mr. Herren’s home, and they found one.”
Ellington concluded the letter saying his office was closing the file and withdrawing prosecution of the matter.
Read the full letter here: state-v-ivey-herren-jr