There were many big stories in 2017 for Northeast Arkansas. A story in itself was that NEA had a news outlet on the front lines: NEA Report. We broke these stories in 2017 before anyone else did.
Randy Orton gets into altercation with Jonesboro man in gym.
At the beginning of 2017, WWE Superstar Randy Orton was on the Road to Wrestlemania. The legendary professional wrestler/sports entertainer would go on to win the Royal Rumble and then, win the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania. Orton was set to be the biggest superstar of 2017.
So on Monday, January 16, 2017, while Anthony Martin and his friends were at The Trim Gym in Jonesboro, they immediately noticed a familiar face in the gym – the 12-time world champion, veteran WWE star Orton. Martin knew he had to get a photo with the celebrity.
“I approached him by myself and said, ‘Can I get a picture of you?,’” Martin said. “He gave me a fist bump and replied, ‘Sorry. I can’t hear you,’ pointing to his ear phones. We went our separate ways.”
Martin decided to snap a photo anyway (see above). This didn’t sit well with The Viper, who went nuts ‘outta nowhere.’
“He saw me snap the picture and came up to me got in my face and said, ‘What the f**k are you doing? I said no **ddamn pictures! Are you f**king stupid?’” Martin said. “I said, ‘No. You said you couldn’t hear me.”
After NEA Report published its story, the article went viral, appearing on BleacherReport and SportsIllustrated, among other major outlets. On Twitter, Orton responded the next day. In his Tweets, Orton confirmed the confrontation and also confirmed he had used expletives at Martin.
“Apparently, I hurt a fan’s feelings when I told him to F off at the gym yesterday,” Orton tweeted. “That’s news? Been happening for 15 years. #getalife”
Orton continued to discuss the incident in a series of Tweets late Tuesday.
“I paid to train,” Orton said. “In between every set, I can’t take pics. He needs to suck it the F up and go to the gym to train not to be a fan boy.”
Orton would go on to win the Royal Rumble on January 29. On April 2, Orton won the WWE Championship at the biggest event of the year, Wrestlemania. However, reactions by crowds to Orton was, more than usual anyway, muted. Orton has been noted to be less than personable in the past with fans but no incidents made national news like this one. The above photo and story was even discussed on a WWE Network program, Bring it to the Table.
2. One dead, six injured in shooting at Basement in Downtown Jonesboro
Kalius Jaciel Lane, 20, is seen in the photo. This was moments before he fired a number of gunshots on May 14, 2017, into a crowded party in Downtown Jonesboro. One person was killed and and a total of seven, including the deceased, were shot.
It became known as The Basement shooting. The incident rattled all of Jonesboro, as nothing like it had ever before happened in our bustling, thriving downtown area. For several weekends that followed, Downtown Jonesboro was noticeably more empty. This changed as time healed open wounds of tragedy.
Shortly after midnight, the calls came into Jonesboro Police Department of shots being fired downtown at The Basement, 311-B South Main Street in Jonesboro. Reports from witnesses said a party was happening at the location when shots rang out. Before the chaotic scene had concluded, at least six had been shot. Monterio Barnes, 18, of Jonesboro, was pronounced dead at the scene. Five people who were injured were transported to local hospitals and one other individual was airlifted to a Memphis hospital for treatment.
NEA Report was the first news outlet to report the incident as we were live from the scene. Sources indicate several high-ranking city officials learned of the incident through NEA Report. We even correctly identified the shooter in our first report as, “KK,” which was the above individual (Kizzle Kizzle. See Urban Dictionary).
Scott Ellington, District Prosecuting Attorney for the Second Judicial District of Arkansas, announces the filing of formal charges against a duo arrested. Ellington filed in Craighead County Circuit Court charging Kalius J. “KK” Lane, 20, and Chauncey Thomas, 19, both of Jonesboro, each with one (1) count of First Degree Murder and six (6) counts of First Degree Battery.
Trial is still pending for both individuals.
3. Local news anchor leaves KAIT
Since the dawn of the new millenium, KAIT’s main news anchors have been Diana Davis and Craig Rickert. However, after a tip from a government official made NEA Report aware that KAIT and Rickert had parted ways in the Spring.
While KAIT never seems to restrain itself from reporting other peoples’ news and details, the news outlet refused to comment on the Rickert issue.
The public had other ideas.
Completely hijacking KAIT’s Facebook and social media feeds, hundreds of comments asked, “Where’s Craig?” on each news story. The viral sensation made it impossible for KAIT to post news without an overwhelming number of comments being about the popular missing news anchor, Rickert. Memes were made and shared by hundreds.
Eventually, a number of individuals reported they were banned from the Region 8 News page for asking where Craig was.
Even Rickert himself couldn’t help but post a few social media smiles about the subject.
Been there, done that, now I have the T-shirt pic.twitter.com/UB1nGG0plh
— Craig Rickert (@Craig_Rickert) May 23, 2017
As for the former KAIT anchorman, he took on a new role in the community. Rickert was named the director of communication for Jonesboro Unlimited, an economic development group hoping to encourage economic activity in our home community. To this reporter, Craig looks happier than he’s been in many years with his new responsibilities.
4. Murder suspect appears on Facebook while behind bars
The first impression many of us had on March 28, 2017, was that Austin “Da Shoota” Ivy had a new photo posted on his Facebook profile which he had just taken in jail. Behind bars on a capital murder charge, Ivy was accused of murdering Alicia “Bird” Carr, 21, of Paragould. We later learned the photo, freshly posted to his profile, was taken from an earlier arrest.
Detectives believe Ivy had been at the 1800-block of Cedar Heights Drive with several other underage friends late Sunday, March 26, as described in the probable cause affidavit. Ivy left there and went to the 400-block of North Allis Street to an apartment where he met another juvenile friend. Once on Allis Street, Ivy was confronted by two teens who arrived from the Cedar Heights address. When the teens left the apartment, they got into a car driven by Carr. She had been waiting on them while whatever confrontation with Ivy took place.
Then, Ivy and another juvenile emerged from the back of the apartment and came around the corner. Gunshots rang out into the night, prompting the early Monday morning calls to JPD.
At 12:40 a.m., a “shots heard” complaint in the 400 block of North Allis Street sent officers to the scene of a shooting and as they would soon learn, a fatal one. Carr had been shot in the head and the wound was mortal. She was taken to St. Bernard’s Medical Center, where she died later Monday morning.
Ivy was represented by attorney Gerald Coleman of West Memphis.
“He didn’t shoot her,” Coleman told NEA Report. “He did not shoot her.”
In November, Ivy entered a plea of guilty before the court on a charge of first degree murder. Under the negotiated plea arrangement, Ivy received a 19 year prison sentence to the Arkansas Department of Correction.
5. Couple accused of making porn in public
When someone says the words “swing” and “porno” in a sentence together, the first thought one’s mind defaults to is probably not the play area of Craighead Forest Park.
Leslie Lanae Sessions, 30, of Trumann, is better known to pornographic internet audiences as “MayvenDoll.” Her and her boyfriend, Derek Calloway, each face nine felonies:
- Public display of hardcore sexual conduct (felony, three counts)
- Obscene films (felony, three counts)
- Promoting obscene performance (felony, three counts)
All nine charges each come with potential penalties of up to $10,000 in fines and/or up to six years in the Arkansas Department of Correction. This means both Sessions and Calloway could, in theory, be sentenced to up to 54 years in prison and ordered to pay as much as $90,000 each in fines – if the two are found guilty of all charges. Both have entered pleas of not guilty.
Sources close to the investigation said a tip reached the Street Crimes Unit of JPD that the two had performed sexual activities in public across Jonesboro. The acts were filmed and uploaded to porn websites online, with tens of thousands viewing the two’s sexual behavior in public settings.
NEA Report found the videos.
Sessions and an off-camera associate, possibly Calloway, are seen in one video going into Home Depot in Jonesboro. However, before they walk in, Sessions engages in sexual behavior with several toys in the parking lot. At one point, an unaware area man is focused on by the camera as the two giggle. With Sessions showing her underwear, the two walk into the store as they film.
Other scenes include Sessions dining at what appears to be Cheddar’s on Red Wolf in Jonesboro. A type of public sex-fetish work, the video shows her seated at the table. A number of likely non-consenting elderly women appear in the background of the video. A short time later, the camera cuts to underneath the table, as Sessions’ masturbates.
Jonesboro Attorney Randel Miller, of Miller Law Firm, represents the couple. He released this statement on the matter:
“This is Randel Miller. I represent Calloway and Sessions,” the statement begins, verbatim. “It is my opinion two of the three statutes under which they are charged are clearly unconstitutional. The statute would prohibit the videoing of two consenting adults in the privacy of own their bedroom. This is such an over-broad statute that it can’t withstand constitutional muster.
“The third statute, dealing with videoing in a public place, is a different matter. First, I think there’s going to be a real question of whether there is any witnesses that observe this an actual witness to this. Second they charge is grossly disproportionate to the condo. Clearly, this conduct would have constituted the misdemeanor offense of indecent exposure rather than the more serious felony offense.
“Finally, this has been blown out of proportion. These two otherwise law-abiding adults were in the quiet of their home with their children when the police descended on their home with a search warrant, tore their house apart and terrified their children. This was grossly unnecessary and a clear abuse of state power.
“These two people should be cleared of the felony charges, and at worst, found guilty of a misdemeanor offense of indecent exposure,” Miller’s statement conclude
Law enforcement indicated their concern was more with the behavior taking place in public and in proximity to locations like playgrounds, public benches, and such.