Special judge appointed in Thurman Abernathy case

City and State Digest
The Sentinel-Record 5-9-1979

Jefferson County Circuit Judge Randall Williams has been appointed to preside over a Hot Spring County Grand Jury that will hear evidence concerning a first-degree murder charge against Hot Springs Police Lt. Thurman Abernathy.

Abernathy is charged in the Aug. 22, 1976 death of Garland County Sheriff’s Deputy Linda Edwards, whose skeletal remains were found in Hot Spring County several months after her disappearance.

Abernathy was charged with the crime in June, 1977 and has been on indefinite suspension from the police department without pay since his arrest. He is free on $50,000 bond.

Prosecuting Attorney Dan Harmon announced in March he would not prosecute Abernathy on the charge and instead would submit the case to the Hot Spring County Grand Jury for consideration.

Harmon said he based the decision on a state Supreme Court ruling which declared certain key prosecution testimony inadmissible.

Hot Spring County Circuit Judge John W. Cole disqualified himself from the case because he was the prosecutor when the charge was filed against the lieutenant.

The grand jury proceeding is expected to begin sometime late this month or in early June.

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