A Pine Bluff man accused in the shooting death of another man in 2016 was sentenced to prison Tuesday after being found guilty of charges related to the crime.
Travis Maurice Price, 37, had been charged with capital murder and six counts of aggravated robbery stemming from the death of Ande Eason, 26, who was shot during the robbery of several individuals who were playing dice at a house at 1900 Poplar St. on May 14, 2016.
A Jefferson County Circuit Court jury of nine women and three men found Price guilty of two of the six counts of aggravated robbery and a reduced charge of first-degree murder. Because of prior convictions for violent crimes, Circuit Judge Alex Guynn sentenced Price to life in prison.
“We’re very happy with the verdict and I believe the family (of Eason) is also happy,” Deputy Prosecutor Jill Reed said Tuesday afternoon. Reed and Deputy Prosecutor Jay Gerard represented the state, while Price was represented by Little Rock attorney Bill Lupen.
On Monday, during the first day of the trial, Associate State Medical Examiner Dr. Adam Craig, who performed the autopsy on Eason, said he died as a result of a gunshot wound to the upper left shoulder.
“He bled to death,” Craig said.
During her closing argument, Reed said the state was not saying that Price was the one who fired the fatal shot, but during the course of that robbery, Eason was killed, meeting one of the state’s burdens under the law.
The second burden, causing the death under circumstances demonstrating extreme indifference to the value of human life, was also met, she said.
“The three suspects wanted money, and they placed the value of that money above the value of human life,” Reed said.
Reed also said there was no question that there was a theft and that Price and two others went to the house intending to rob the participants of dice games.
“There were five witnesses,” Reed said.
Two men who were at the scene the night of Eason’s death gave their accounts during the trial. Mason Foster said a gun was stuck in his face, money was demanded and money was handed over. Jesse Pridgeon testified that he saw the defendant with a gun in his hand, “cock it, fire into the ceiling and tell everybody to get down.”
The lead investigator in the case, Detective Keith Banks, said Price was arrested July 5 after Pine Bluff officers received a tip that he was in Little Rock at a particular address. Banks said they passed the information along to Little Rock police.
“They notified us that they had him in custody,” Banks said, adding that the following day, he went to Little Rock to interview Price before bringing him back to Pine Bluff.
During the interview, which was videotaped and played for the jury Tuesday, Price said he had been shooting dice when he was shot in the back, pulling up his shirt to show a small scar.
He also said he had gone to the dice game alone, walking from an apartment complex about eight blocks away and had left alone.
That contradicted statements by witnesses to the crime who said Price and two other men, one later identified as Marvin Westbrook, had arrived together, and after the shooting left together in the same vehicle.
Banks said that it had been almost two months since the shooting and Price had not contacted police to report that he had been shot or to tell them what he knew. At that point, Price asked for an attorney and the interview was halted.
Westbrook, who was 18 at the time of the incident, had been arrested June 9 after a high-speed chase by law enforcement officers from several different agencies, including Pine Bluff police, White Hall police and Pulaski County Sheriff’s deputies, that began near Miramar and Howard Drive and continued down Interstate 530 to Interstate 40 in Little Rock. The chase ended at Camp Robinson Road, where the vehicle stopped in the parking lot of an apartment complex.
Westbrook had been scheduled for trial with Price Monday on charges of capital murder, aggravated robbery, felon in possession of a firearm and felony fleeing but elected to enter a plea of guilty to a reduced charge of manslaughter, and to the other three offenses. He was sentenced to a total of 20 years in prison and will have to serve 100 percent of that sentence.