Seven months before he was accused of killing his former girlfriend and the mother of his child, Kendrick Hampton was arrested after he allegedly struck the woman in the face during an altercation at the convention center hotel.
Thursday, he accepted a plea agreement in the domestic battery case involving Re’Shelle Smith. Hampton still faces a murder charge in her death and that trial is expected to be held in October.
Meanwhile, Hampton was accompanied by his attorney Ronald Davis of Little Rock on Thursday and pleaded no contest to one count of second-degree domestic battery involving Smith and one count of theft by receiving. He was sentenced to 48 months in prison on each count, with the sentences to run concurrently, or at the same time.
At the time of that arrest, Hampton, now 25, was carrying a loaded semi-automatic handgun that police determined had been reported stolen in Memphis.
Had Hampton gone to trial and been convicted of battery and theft, he could have been sentenced to between three and 10 years on each count, as well as fined.
Circuit Judge Berlin Jones, who accepted the plea, also told Hampton he would receive credit for the time he had spent in jail awaiting trial on the charges.
It was that domestic incident on Jan. 30, 2011, that led Smith, 23, to break off her relationship with Hampton, Smith’s mother, Leslie Abernathy said during an interview with The Commercial last year.
“He got possessive and they finally broke up,” Abernathy said.
Abernathy said Smith had tried to move on with her life, and to be friends with Hampton because of their child, and Hampton kept the child while she worked at a plant in Sheridan, getting off work at 3 a.m., and picking up the child at 3:30 a.m.
Regarding the incident at the hotel to which Smith entered the plea, Deputy Prosecutor Rik Ramsey said police were sent to the hotel after a member of the staff reported a disturbance near the elevators and saw two people arguing.
Officer Cordell Davis, one of the initial officers to respond, reported seeing Hampton with his arm around Smith’s neck apparently trying to control her.
“There was blood on her face and when he released her, she collapsed on the floor in a puddle of blood,” said Ramsey, who with Deputy Prosecutor Cymber Gieringer represented the state during the hearing.
Police reported at the time that Hampton said he hit Smith and tried to get her in the elevator and Smith said Hampton hit her in the face with his fist. The two had been arguing because Smith received a phone call from another man while the two were at a nightclub.
Ramsey said Smith was taken to Jefferson Regional Medical Center where she was treated for a broken nose and lacerations to the face.
Regarding the gun, Ramsey said police found a Glock .40-caliber handgun on Hampton’s right ankle under his pants. The gun had a 29-round magazine and was loaded with 14 hollow point bullets, including one in the chamber. A check of the serial number indicated the gun had been reported stolen from a former law enforcement officer in Memphis.
After a court hearing on Feb. 1, 2011, Hampton was released on a $5,000 bond and was ordered to have no contact with Smith until the case was settled.
On the morning of Aug. 13, 2011, police were sent to Hampton’s mother’s house in the 3600 block of Missouri Street to investigate a reported shooting and found blood in the street and a shell casing but no suspect or victim.
Police developed information that linked Hampton to the shooting, and that he had left the scene in a car with Smith. About two hours later, the car, containing Smith’s body, was found on Bohannon Road off St. Rapheal Road. The State Medical Examiner’s Office ruled that Smith died as a result of a gunshot wound to the head.
On Aug. 26, Prosecuting Attorney S. Kyle Hunter filed capital murder charges against Hampton, who was also named as “Pine Bluff’s Most Wanted,” and a $1,000 reward was offered for information leading to his arrest.
The search for Hampton continued until Sept. 9 when Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputies, members of the U.S. Marshal’s Service and officers from the Arlington, Texas, Police Department located Hampton at a house in the 2100 block of Park Boulevard where he had been staying with a female later identified as his aunt.
After the two refused to come outside, and officers learned that Hampton was armed, they established a perimeter and Arlington police deployed their SWAT team, set up a command post, and brought in hostage negotiators to talk with Hampton and his aunt.
Several apartment buildings located in the area were evacuated and a section of the freeway was closed before Hampton and the aunt walked outside and surrendered. Afterward, Arlington police served a search warrant and located a semi-automatic handgun which sheriff’s deputies brought back to Pine Bluff when they transported Hampton back from Texas.
He has been held at the W.C. “Dub” Brassell Adult Detention Center ever since, and is currently set for trial on the murder charge in early October.