Two Pine Bluff men who were facing murder charges in Jefferson County will both serve prison terms after entering guilty pleas to the offenses. George Austin and Sha’Quille Carter each entered the pleas last week, Chief Deputy Prosecutor Wayne Juneau said Tuesday.
Carter had been accused of capital murder and aggravated robbery stemming from the June 23, 2015, shooting death of Hardip Singh, 46, who was a clerk at the Big Red convenience store at 1802 E Harding Ave.
He entered a plea of guilty to reduced charges of second-degree murder and robbery and was sentenced to 20 years on each count, with the sentences to run concurrently.
The police investigation indicated that Carter was the passenger in a car driven by Lorenzo Kellon that was used in the robbery and in which Kellon and Carter escaped. Both were taken into custody within 36 hours of the incident, and Carter has been held at the adult detention center ever since.
After a five-day trial in September 2016, a jury found Kellon guilty of capital murder, aggravated robbery and that he has used a firearm to commit the offenses. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, plus 55 years. Carter, who was 18 at the time of the incident, will receive jail credit for the time he has been locked up prior to entering the plea.
In a separate case, Austin, now 33, was originally charged with second-degree murder, but in a deal worked out with prosecutors and his attorney, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to six years in prison, which will run concurrently with a six-year sentence he began in June on charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm and possession of cocaine with purpose to deliver stemming from a case in 2008.
The murder charge stemmed from an incident at the adult detention center on July 16, 2014, when Austin got into a fight with Paul Washington, 42, who had tried to aid his brother, who was also a detainee at the jail.
During the fight, Austin picked up Washington and slammed him to the concrete floor. Both Austin and Washington were taken to Jefferson Regional Medical Center, where Austin was treated and released. Washington died at a private healthcare facility on Sept. 18, 2014.
Austin, who was being held on the drug charges, made bond before Washington died and dropped out of sight for almost two years before he turned himself in in May 2016. In May of this year, he was sentenced to prison on the drug and gun charges.