In Abernathy case: Hearing scheduled for April

Bennie Ivory

The Sentinel-Record 3-31-78

Sheridan – Hot Spring County Prosecuting Attorney John Cole Thursday said a hearing will be held sometime in April on the admissibility of certain evidence the state intends to introduce in its case against Hot Springs Police Lt. Thurman Abernathy, who is charged with first-degree murder.

Abernathy is accused of murdering Garland County Sheriff’s Deputy Linda Edwards, whose skeletal remains were found in February 1977, on Jack Mountain about six months after she disappeared.

Cole said the evidence in question involves certain statements Mrs. Edwards made before her death.

He said if the court refuses to allow any of the statements to be admitted, it would seriously jeopardize the state’s case. On the other hand, he said the court could admit some of the statements and disallow some others.

“If he denied it all, I would have to sit back and re-evaluate, ” said Cole.

The case has been set for trial twice but each time has been continued at the request of the defense attorney Jack Holt, Jr., of Little Rock. It originally was scheduled to be tried on Feb. 22, then was reset for March 22.

Cole said a new trial date might be set in April after the hearing.

Mrs. Edwards was reported missing Aug. 22, 1976, after she failed to return to her babysitter’s home to pick up her two children. Her abandoned car was discovered shortly afterwards.

Mrs. Edwards reportedly was about four months pregnant at the time of her disappearance.

A group of wolf hunters found Mrs. Edwards’ skeletal remains in February 1977, on Jack Mountain, just inside the Hot Spring County line.

Abernathy, who is on indefinite suspension from the police department pending the outcome of the trial, was arrested about four months later. He is free on $50,000 bond.

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