Abernathy trial still postponed

The Sentinel-Record 2-21-1978

The first degree murder trial of Hot Springs Police Lt. Thurman Abernathy, which was set off indefinitely last week, may not come to trial until August, according to Hot Spring Prosecuting Attorney John Cole.

Cole said the trial, originally set for Feb. 22, was continued because Abernathy’s attorney, Jack Holt Jr. of Little Rock, was in Washington, D. C. presenting oral arguments to the U. S. Supreme Court pertaining to Arkansas penitentiaries.

“Judge Means (Hot Spring Circuit Judge) set off the trial in deference to Holt. Appearing before the Supreme Court is a once in a lifetime thing. So we deferred to that,” explained Cole.

“When Jack (Holt) gets back from Washington, he, Judge Means and I will sit down and try to find a place on the docket to try this case.”

Cole said that finding a date might present some difficulties because of the crowded docket in Means’ three county district.

“It takes some time to try a felony case like this, but we’re going to try to get an early date. It’s conceivable that we might not get on the docket until early August.”

Abernathy is charged with first degree murder in connection with the slaying of Linda Edwards, a Garland County deputy sheriff, whose body was found a year ago. Abernathy was arrested on July 8 and charged with the felony. In October, Judge Means set the trial date for Feb. 22.

Cole was asked if the length of time between the arrest and trial would affect the state’s case. “In a case like this, a time lapse of this size almost always favors the defendant. It’s our case that generally falls apart. The state must supply the burden of proof. We lose witnesses. They get out of state. There are all sorts of things that can happen.”

Abernathy is presently free on $50,000 bail.

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