Judge rules probable cause for second-degree murder in White Hall slaying


Prosecutors decided Tuesday to reduce the charges against a Star City man accused of running over three people with a vehicle Sunday in White Hall, killing one of them.

During a court hearing, Pine Bluff District Judge John Kearney agreed to a request from Deputy Prosecutor Maxie Kizer to rule that prosecutors had probable cause to charge Larry Pierce, 25, with one count of second-degree murder and two counts of first-degree battery stemming from an incident at 7:07 p.m. Sunday at 902 West St. in White Hall.

Pierce had initially been held on probable cause of first-degree murder as well as the two counts of first-degree battery.

Ralph Richard Reynolds Jr., 33, of White Hall, was pronounced dead at the scene by Jefferson County Deputy Coroner Eric Belcher, who listed the cause of death as multiple blunt force trauma.

The slaying was the fifth of the year in Jefferson County, and the third outside the Pine Bluff city limits. It is the first recorded homicide in the history of White Hall, which was incorporated as a city in 1964, according to Mayor Noel Foster.

Ralph C. Reynolds, 76, White Hall and Amanda Meshelle Pierce, 30, of Star City were injured and taken to Jefferson Regional Medical Center where they were treated and released for what police called “non-life threatening injuries.”

Reading from a probable cause affidavit from White Hall Police Officer Robert Rogers, Kizer said Rogers was sent to the West Street address in response to a reported domestic disturbance and when he arrived, he saw a vehicle start to back out of the driveway.

Rogers reported that two people, later identified as Ralph C. Reynolds and Amanda Pierce, were standing on the passenger side of the vehicle with the door open, and when the vehicle accelerated, both were knocked to the ground and hit by the rear passenger side wheel. A third person, later identified as Ralph Richard Reynolds, was reportedly being dragged by the vehicle, a white Ford flatbed truck.

According to police, Amanda Pierce was the former girlfriend of Ralph Richard Reynolds and the sister of Larry Pierce. Ralph C. Reynolds was Ralph Richard Reynolds’ grandfather.

Witnesses told Rogers the driver of the truck, later identified as Larry Pierce, was armed and when Rogers approached the truck, he reported seeing Pierce holding a small female.

Rogers reported that he ordered Pierce to release the child, and when Pierce refused, he grabbed Pierce, who released the child. A bystander picked up the child, according to Rogers’ report.

According to the affidavit, Pierce was wearing an empty holster and Rogers reported finding a .45 caliber pistol with six rounds in the magazine but none in the chamber in the seat of the truck.

The initial investigation indicated that Larry and Amanda Pierce had gone to the residence on West Street to pick up a child and when they tried to leave, there was an altercation between Larry Pierce and Ralph Richard Reynolds, and Pierce allegedly pulled out a gun.

Ralph Richard Reynolds and Ralph C. Reynolds reportedly tried to stop the Pierces from leaving, and Ralph C. Reynolds allegedly pulled Amanda Pierce out of the truck before both were hit.

Ralph C. Reynolds also told police that Ralph Richard Reynolds had been standing beside him when the truck started to accelerate.

In addition to setting the bond, the judge ordered Pierce to have no contact with Ralph C. Reynolds and Amanda Pierce until the case is settled and told him to come back to court April 2.

Pierce said he would hire his own attorney.