PARAGOULD, Ark. – The man who planned the murder of his wife because he didn’t want anyone else to have her will most likely be in jail for the rest of his life.
Charles Quintana, 58, of Paragould, was sentenced to 50 years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections on Thursday, April 20, 2017, for the murder-for-hire plot he orchestrated in Dec. 2015 to take the life of his estranged wife, Stacy Quintana. Quintana was sentenced to 40 years for first degree murder and 10 years for robbery, District Prosecutor Scott Ellington told NEA Report. He must serve 70 percent of the murder term and 25 percent of the robbery term before he is eligible for parole, meaning he will be in his 90s before having a chance of walking free.
Family members of the slain sweetheart of Lorado said they were happy to know Quintana would be incarcerated for the rest of his life for the heinous act. Those in the courtroom said Quintana appeared gaunt, aged and weathered by the year he has spent in jail, already. He will get credit for time already served which will remove a year and a few months off of his sentence.
Quintana was the final of four sentenced in the plot, which was hatched in the parking lot of Lorado Grocery and Feed in the early morning hours of Dec. 23, 2015.
The shooter, Stacy Keplinger, 37, of Paragould, received the harshest sentence of the group – 80 years – due to her attempted murder of a witness on the scene. Keplinger tried murdering the delivery clerk after she already had murdered Stacy Quintana. She failed.
Darrel Swan, 53, the driver, received a 30 year prison sentence in February, 2017.
The woman who helped house Keplinger and introduce her to Charles – Tracy Stone, 45, of Paragould – received a plea deal in Nov. 2016 to serve 60 months in ADC. She could be eligible for parole this year. Stone was romantically involved with Charles Quintana, testimony by Keplinger said.
The family found healing and courage by turning their country store into a tribute and memorial to Stacy Quintana, as detailed in this report.
During Keplinger’s plea bargain, we learned more about how events transpired. She testified in the beginning of December, 2015, she was homeless in Fayetteville. A conversation with her “best friend,” Tracy Stone, 46, of Paragould, led to Swan and Stone driving to Fayetteville, in Swan’s truck, and picking up Keplinger. She then lived with both Stone, in a house on Emerson Street, and Swan, in the Highway 69 Mobile Home Park – both in Paragould. As Keplinger told the story, she coincidentally was moved to town just two weeks prior to being utilized to commit murder.
While at the mobile home park, Charles Quintana came over and introduced himself to Keplinger, who testified that both Charles and Stone were involved in a romantic, sexual relationship. Stone had claimed she planned to marry Charles once his divorce with Stacy Quintana was finalized. Charles continuously referred to how “stressful” his marriage with Stacy Quintana was – and how it was going to “kill him.”
Keplinger testified that she heard Charles talking about having a heart problem and said, “If something didn’t get done, it was going to kill him.”
Keplinger also said he acted as though he wanted a divorce but she would not sign it because he was coming into money from a veteran fund. Keplinger said Charles also claimed Stacy Quintana was cheating on him – seemingly unphased by his own sexual relationship with Stone.
Swan agreed, saying he “knew where he was coming from,” according to Keplinger’s testimony, and that he wanted his friend Charles “to be happy.”
With the conversation continuing, Charles mentioned where she worked and began talking about running her off of the road near an embankment. The person whom he wished to employ as the hitman for this task would cost $15,000, Keplinger said.
Everyone in the room then turned to Keplinger and she replied, “I’ll do it,” she testified.
With Charles promising Keplinger and Swan a home and a job in Mexico, the plan began to be laid by the group.
“Thank you,” Charles Quintana told Keplinger, according to her testimony. “I am forever in debt to you.”
On the Saturday before the murder, Keplinger picked up what the group called a “toy” from Charles, the toy being a pistol which would take the life of Stacy Quintana. Keplinger also said Charles insisted the murder be done on Dec. 23 – but she insisted she did not know why this date was so important.
On Dec. 22, the night before the murder, Swan gassed up his four-door white pickup truck. He then bought Keplinger a black hoodie from Family Dollar and then, according to her testimony, bought her crystal methamphetamine from a dealer at a gas station. Keplinger snorted the meth the night before and went to sleep.
At 4:30 a.m. on Dec. 23, she woke up and showered. With help from Swan, she taped the knife to her left leg. Swan then taped her breasts to make her look like a boy, Keplinger said. A red bag with a change of clothes was put in the truck and the two left for Lorado Grocery.
The plan unraveled when Keplinger was dropped off behind the woods by Swan. Instead of Stacy Quintana alone arriving, a delivery man arrived. Asking why Keplinger was there, she answered that her car had broken down and she was needing to make a call. The delivery driver, Aaron Jenkins, offered Keplinger his truck to keep warm in on the cold winter morning. She accepted his offer, minutes before she would try to slit his throat in cold blood.
When Stacy Quintana arrived, she was already on the phone. She was talking on the phone to her husband, Charles, Keplinger testified. The man who had planned and orchestrated her murder, according to the testimony, wanted to talk to her moments before she would die.
As the group went inside of the grocery store, Keplinger began to spring her plan. She faked a robbery.
“I was trying to make it look like I was robbing them,” Keplinger said. “It was supposed to look like a robbery.”
Keplinger took the two to Stacy Quintana’s car, she said. Stacy Quintana begged for her life, telling Keplinger she was a mother of two boys.
“I told her to shut her eyes,” Keplinger testified. “Then I shot her.”
The killer showed no remorse as the words came from her mouth. The family, meanwhile, was in tears in the courtroom.
Keplinger said she then went around the car and tried to cut Jenkin’s throat, as he begged for his life, too. She would fail and he would then call the police, leading to her arrest a short ways down the road, as she walked to meet up with Swan.