Father-in-law pleads guilty in Craighead County slaying


LITTLE ROCK — A Paragould man pleaded guilty in Craighead County Circuit Court on Tuesday to being involved in a murder-for-hire conspiracy that led to the 2011 shooting death of his son-in-law.

Carl D. Kelley pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in Marc Despain’s death and is to be sentenced Jan. 4. Prosecutor Scott Ellington said in a news release he plans to ask that Kelley be sentenced to 35 years in prison.

Kelley and three other people, including his daughter, Michelle Despain, the wife of the victim, were each arrested and charged with capital murder in connection with the slaying of Marc Despain, a real estate investor and appraiser, found shot to death in his home on Aug. 24, 2011.

In May, Terrance O’Dell Barker of Jonesboro, the accused trigger man, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced to 35 years in prison.

Johnny Hubbard of Jonesboro pleaded guilty to hindering apprehension and was sentenced to 18 years in prison. His probation on a previous drug conviction was revoked and he was sentenced to 48 years. The sentences are to run consecutively, Ellington said.

Michelle Despain, who called Jonesboro police to report finding her husband fatally shot in their home, is scheduled to go to trial Feb. 11. She is to appear in Craighead County Circuit Court on Jan. 28 for a pre-trial hearing.

Ellington said in the news release that Hubbard introduced Kelley to Barker. Kelley then drove Barker to Marc Despain’s home and let him inside the residence to shoot his son-in-law.

The prosecutor also said that Marc Despain’s parents, Jack and Tana, have approved of the plea agreements in the case.

“We have been able to obtain guilty pleas from three of the four defendants in this case,” Ellington said. “Marc’s parents have been in full agreement with our negotiations, and we will focus our sights on the final defendant.”