Man gets 43 years in prison for murder

Paragould, Ark. – A man will spend decades in prison after pleading guilty to murder in a case stemming from earlier this year in Clay County.

Heath Hunsaker, 30, pleaded guilty on Monday to the shooting death of Matthew Hale. The circuit court sentenced Hunsaker to 43 years imprisonment (40 years plus a three-year firearm enhancement).

During the evening of March 8, 2022, an unnamed person reported to the Clay County Sheriff’s Office that a man was lying in the front yard of 1479 Highway 49 and unresponsive. Deputies arrived and found the deceased body of 35-year-old Hale with gunshot wounds.

The Arkansas State Police investigated and identified Hunsaker, a Missouri resident, as its primary suspect. With the help of Missouri law enforcement, ASP Agents located and interviewed Hunsaker, who confessed to Hale’s murder. The ASP arrested Hunsaker and charged him with first-degree murder.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Michael Trail prosecuted the case for the state. Trail thanked the Arkansas State Police, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, and the Clay County Sheriff’s Office for their investigation and hard work.

Prosecuting Attorney Keith L. Chrestman praised Trail: “I’m thankful for his continued willingness to serve. His success sends a clear message—Clay County won’t tolerate violence and lawlessness.”

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