Crater pleads guilty to 2013 murder


A Pine Bluff man was sentenced to prison Monday after pleading guilty to a 2013 murder.

Markell Crater, 20, had been charged in the Jan. 3 shooting death of Roy Haltiwanger, 20, who was found between two vacant houses at 314 and 316 E. 21st Ave. and taken to Jefferson Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead of multiple gunshot wounds.

In a deal worked out with prosecutors and his court-appointed attorney, Crater pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree murder and was sentenced to 20 years in prison by Circuit Judge Jodi Raines Dennis. He will have to serve one-quarter of that sentence before being eligible to apply for parole.

During a court hearing on Feb. 6, 2013, Detective Bill Wiegand said a confidential informant called police Feb. 1 and said they had watched Crater stand in the middle of the street and shoot Haltiwanger several times.

According to a probable cause affidavit, the witness said they heard “nine or 10 gunshots” and saw no one else firing shots. Multiple shell casings were recovered at the scene.

Crater was on probation at the time of the shooting on charges of residential burglary and theft of property and had pending charges of residential burglary, aggravated assault and theft by receiving and will serve his sentence on those charges at the same time as the sentence for murder.

The slaying was the first of the year last year in Pine Bluff, which ended 2013 with 16 murders and two additional homicides.

Deputy Prosecutors Bryan Achorn and Jill Reed represented the state, and Crater was represented by attorney Sandra Trotter Phillips from the Public Defender’s Office.

Crater had been scheduled for trial in early February in 5th Division Circuit Court.