The only clue that police had to the identity of a suspect in a November murder in Pine Bluff was that the suspect’s vehicle had loud pipes. That one clue proved to be enough, thanks to the attention of a police officer.
On Monday afternoon, police arrested Deondrick Clark, 20, without incident at his workplace — Jefferson Regional Medical Center — in the Nov. 8 shooting death of Willie Lee Oglesby Jr., 28, who was found inside a car that was sitting in the road in the area of West 29th Avenue and Hazel Street with what appeared to be a gunshot wound to the back.
Oglesby was pronounced dead at the scene by Deputy Coroner Eric Belcher.
Clark made his first court appearance Wednesday, and Jefferson County District Judge Kim Bridgforth set a $250,000 bond after ruling prosecutors have probable cause to charge Clark with first-degree murder.
At a meeting of the Pine Bluff City Council in November, Pine Bluff Police Chief Ivan Whitfield credited Officer Jason Boykin, who was working his last shift, with providing the break detectives needed to make the arrest. Boykin left the department the next day and currently works for another law enforcement agency.
According to a probable cause affidavit from Pine Bluff Detective Steve Rucker that was presented at the court hearing Wednesday, Boykin was sitting on the south side of East Harding Avenue in front of the Big Red at 1802 E. Harding when he spotted a silver Dodge Charger heading east at a “higher-than-normal speed.”
Boykin noticed the car because of its loud pipes, then got behind the Charger and finally caught up with it just as both vehicles were passing under the overpass to I-530. He reported that the car had paper tags and dual exhausts on the rear.
Rucker reported that Boykin activated his blue lights just as they were passing J & M Mobile Home sales on the south side of U.S. 65 just before Osborn Road; Boykin reported that the Charger appeared to slow down but then sped up and slowed down again. The vehicle was also reportedly “swerving a little bit” between the lanes, but it mostly stayed in the right lane the whole time.
The Charger finally came to a stop at the Produce Shed at 3910 U.S. 65 south, and Boykin reportedly approached the car with his gun drawn and instructed the driver, later identified as Clark, to keep his hands out the window. Boykin also reported that as he got closer to the vehicle, he detected the odor of marijuana and asked Clark, who was the only one in the vehicle, to step out.
Rucker reported that as he was speaking to Clark, he noticed a handgun magazine in the front passenger seat. When Boykin asked about it, Clark reportedly said it was “his clip,” but he did not have the gun. The passenger side window was also rolled all the way down.
After another officer arrived, the car was searched. No marijuana was found, but the clip contained five .40-caliber rounds in a 13-round magazine. No gun was found in the vehicle.
Clark was taken to the detective office, where he told Rucker that he was the only one in the car and the only one that drove the car. He then asked for an attorney, and the interview was stopped. Clark was taken to the adult detention center and booked in on a misdemeanor failure to appear warrant, which had a $650 bond.
His vehicle was towed to the Police Crime Scene office, pending a search warrant.
That same morning, Rucker reported talking to a witness who had been in the car with Oglesby and who said that he did not see who fired the shots but did see the car that, in his words, “pulled up beside them and started shooting at them.”
He described the car as a silver Dodge Charger, and when shown a picture of Clark’s vehicle, “immediately pointed to it and said, ‘That’s the car.’”
Rucker and Detective Jeremy Oswalt searched the Charger the following day after obtaining a search warrant and located two spent .40-caliber shell casings in the vehicle where the back glass meets the trunk. They also collected the magazine, which had five live .40-caliber rounds in it, and $920 in cash that was located in the sunglasses holder in the overhead console.
“Detective Oswalt and I added the number of rounds found at that time,” Rucker said in the affidavit. “Six spent shell casings at the crime scene, two spent shell casings in the car and five live rounds in the magazine, totaling 13 rounds accounted for out of the 13-round magazine.”
Also that morning, Rucker and Oswalt went to U.S. 65 south and searched the west side of the roadway. They located a .40-caliber Glock handgun with an extended magazine just north of Osborn Road. The gun was collected and sent to the State Crime Laboratory for comparison with the shell casings and any projectiles recovered at the crime scene.
On Nov. 16, Rucker was contacted by Jennifer Floyd, a Firearms and Toolmarks Examiner at the State Crime Laboratory, who reported she had compared the spent shell casings recovered from the crime scene with those found in Clark’s vehicle, and they were all fired from the same gun.
Floyd contacted Rucker again Dec. 4 to report that the spent shell casings found at the scene and in Clark’s car were fired from the gun police recovered on U.S. 65 south.
Between those two reports, Clark and his grandmother met with Whitfield and Assistant Chief Kelvin Sergeant about the car that police had seized. At that meeting, the grandmother asked Clark to tell her where he had been that night, and Clark said he had left work at about midnight, dropped off a female friend in the area of West 26th Avenue and Cherry Street, then went over to his aunt’s house, parked outside and “smoked some marijuana.”
In the affidavit, Rucker also listed the facts that he believed constituted probable cause to arrest Clark.
Those included:Clark said no one else had been in the car and no one else had been driving the car.The weapon was found near where Boykin initiated the traffic stop.The magazine matched the gun and had apparently been changed.The car fit the description given by witnesses.The spent shell casings found in the car matched the spent shell casings at the crime scene, and the weapon located discharged the spent shell casings in Clark’s car and at the crime scene.
During the court appearance, Clark said he would hire his own attorney.