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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

New public defender faces large backlog of court cases

Friday, November 4, 2011

A new public defender, who made his first appearance during the Oct. 25 session of Fulton Circuit Court, faced a log jam of cases.

John Russo, a Mountain Home defense attorney, was chosen by the Arkansas Public Defenders Office to represent clients in Fulton and Izard County.

Judge Tim Weaver was forced to hold limited court sessions in August and September, since there was no permanent public defender to represent defendants.

Russo replaces Shane Ethridge, who resigned in August because he lives in Hot Springs, and tired of the long drives to Salem and Melbourne for court sessions

Judge Tim Weaver, who pressed for a quick appointment, had expressed hope that the new public defender would live in the area.

As he dealt with a parade of clients, Russo indicated he had been working to organize files and contact clients, and apologized for a couple of cases in which clients had not been reminded of their court dates.

Judge Weaver, happy to be back in business, complimented Russo for "doing an admirable job."

Russo is already a familiar face in Fulton County, as he represents Rodney Kankey of Viola, who has faced charges of assault, terroristic threatening and animal cruelty.

Russo is seeking a hearing before the Arkansas Supreme Court, as he challenges a Fulton District Court ruling, giving custody of horses seized from Kankey's property to the ASPCA.

Youngblood Released

During the Oct. 25 session, a Salem man jailed since April for a series of thefts has been released on bond in one case, while receiving probation on another.

David Chris Youngblood, 28, pled guilty in Fulton County Circuit Court on Oct. 25 to Theft of Property.

Under a plea agreement, Youngblood was placed on probation for 36 months, and ordered to pay $420 in court costs and fees.

According to Sheriff Buck Foley, the plea agreement pertains to the April 5 theft of farm equipment belonging to Danny Perryman.

The probation was granted after restitution was made to the victim.

Before being released from jail, Youngblood had to post a $30,000 bond, because of unresolved charges in another case.

Youngblood was arrested on April 14 for Residential Burglary, Theft of Property, Theft by Receiving and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Youngblood's arrest grew out of an April 12 house fire in Camp. Karen Bontrager, the owner of the home, discovered a television set and guns had been removed from her home before the fire.

Investigators found that Youngblood, a family friend and frequent visitor to the Bontrager home, had pawned guns belonging to the Bontrager's on four occasions in March and April, including April 12, the day of the fire.

Youngblood admitted to stealing the guns, but denied taking a big screen television or setting the fire at the Bontrager home, which was determined to be arson.

According to Foley, the arson case is still open but his department has not gathered enough evidence to make an arrest.

Youngblood faces strict conditions under the probation agreement and his release on bond.

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