By SARA MITCHELL
Thirteenth Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Robin Carroll added the charge of capital murder Wednesday to the string of charges faced by Stephen Meeks, 26, of El Dorado.
The Dec. 23, 2009, death of William Lee Boyer, which was due to a reported overdose or lethal mixture of drugs, prompted capital murder charges against Meeks.
“Union County has suffered the deaths of at least four young adults since November 19, 2009, caused by overdoses of prescription drugs,” Carroll said.
“It’s an issue our office, the Union County Sheriff’s Office, the El Dorado Police Department and the Drug Task Force are taking very seriously. It’s a critical issue for us to educate the public, and would-be dealers and users of the implications of selling and using prescription drugs illegally,” he said.
Meeks, of 1117 W. Eighth St., in El Dorado, is already charged with four counts of delivery of a controlled substance, simultaneous possession of drugs and firearms and use of a communication device. He has been in the Union County Jail since Dec. 31.
Carroll had said in December at the time of Meeks’ arrest that further charges were pending based on the results of further investigation.
Boyer was home in El Dorado during holiday military leave when he died.
A preliminary drug screening from Medical Center of South Arkansas showed Xanax, Methadone and marijuana found in Boyer’s system. A full autopsy was performed on Dec. 28, and according to the affidavit, additional charges on Meeks were expected.
Text messages from Boyer’s cell phone during the last days of his life, which showed communication between he and Meeks, prompted an investigation by the 13th Judicial District Drug Task Force.
Meeks admitted to law enforcement agents that he sold Boyer drugs on different occasions between Dec. 16 and Dec. 21, according to the probable cause affidavit. Drugs sold by Meeks during that time were reported to be Oxycontin, Methadone and Xanax. Meeks also admitted to law enforcement during an interview that he had been in possession of a concealed handgun when the drug transactions were made.
Although the Meeks case is an unusual one, a subsection of the Arkansas Code Annotated which deals with homicides states that a capital murder charge is supported if a person acting alone or with one or more other persons “commits or attempts to commit a felony violation of the Uniformed Controlled Substances Act (defined in A.C.A. Section 5-64-101 through 5-64-508) involving an actual delivery of a controlled substance." The person charged, according to the law, causes the death under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life.
Carroll said he was not aware of a similar case in the state. However, a few comparable cases in other states have been noted.
A 23-year-old Tennessee man pleaded guilty in 2009 to involuntary manslaughter after a 19-year-old overdosed on drugs he provided. The drug dealer was originally charged with second-degree murder, possession with the intent to sell or deliver a controlled substance and the sale or delivery of a controlled substance.
In North Dakota, another drug supplier was sentenced to prison for supplying crystal methamphetamine and GHB, also known as the “date rape drug,” to a man who would then rape and murder a 23-year-old young man. The drug dealer did not participate directly in the rape or murder, but instead supplied drugs to the person who used them on the victim.
Another case involves two men from Maryland who were arrested for second-degree murder, Involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment and distribution of methadone, after a 21-year-old man was found dead after consuming pills he reportedly bought from them.
Original bond for Meeks was set at $250,000, but no bond is obtainable in capital murder charges.
The penalty for capital murder is life without parole or the death penalty. Carroll said the state would not seek the death penalty.
On the drug and firearm charges, Meeks could receive 10 to 40 years or life in the Arkansas Department of Correction, and up to $25,000 in fines for each.
Boyer was a 2002 graduate of El Dorado High School and attended Southern Arkansas University, where he excelled at both schools playing basketball.
He graduated from Army basic training at Fort Knox, Ken., on Oct. 22, 2009, and later went on to graduate from the Army Advanced Individual Training program on Dec. 11.
He had been scheduled to report to Fort Richardson, Alaska, in early January.