David Allen Yarberry, 45, of Star City, pleaded no contest Monday to a first-degree murder charge before Lincoln County Circuit Court Rob Wyatt in exchange for a 30-year prison sentence.
Yarberry was charged with the September 9, 2012, shooting death of John Daryl “Punch” Finley, 43, also of Star City.
Finley died at Jefferson Regional Medical Center in Pine Bluff on Sept. 11, 2012, two days after he was shot once in the head with a small-caliber bullet.
Police arrested Yarberry not far from the scene of the shooting, which was at 2538 State Highway 212 West.
Yarberry, who was represented by public defender Keith Hall, has been held at the Lincoln County jail since his arrest on a $250,000 secured bond.
The case had been set for trial Monday and jury selection had already begun.
“He actually entered a plea of no contest and the court found him guilty,” Prosecuting Attorney S. Kyle Hunter said Monday. “That no contest plea means he is not contesting the allegations made by the state. Our allegation is that he purposely caused the death of John Finley. To resolve it, the state agreed, if he would enter a plea of guilty or no contest, we would recommend 30 years to the court. There had been negotiations leading up to the time of the trial. The plea was taken outside the presence of the jury for obvious reasons, because if it hadn’t gone through then the trial would have begun.”
The prosecutor said Finley’s family was in court Monday and agreed to the plea bargain.
Hunter said the penalty for first-degree murder is 10 to 40 years or life in prison.
Yarberry also pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance, methamphetamine, and received a six-year sentence in the ADC to run concurrently with the 30-year term. Additionally, Yarberry was sentenced to one year in the county jail for pleading no contest to a charge of resisting arrest, a Class A misdemeanor. That sentence is also to run concurrently.
Hunter said Yarberry will receive 18 months credit for the time he has already served in jail and will be eligible to apply for parole in about 21 years.
“It was, in our opinion, a purposeful killing and it was a sad situation because it involved guys that had been friends for a long time,” Hunter said. “It was a horrible thing that the Finley family is having to deal with and I think they’re glad to get this part of the process done so that, hopefully, some healing can begin to take place over what’s happened. So, from the state’s perspective, we were glad to resolve it the way that it happened.”