Third defendant sentenced in murder-for-hire case


JONESBORO — A man who pleaded guilty in the murder-for-hire slaying of his son-in-law was sentenced to 35 years in prison, Prosecutor Scott Ellington announced Friday.

Carl D. Kelley admitted his role in the August 2011 shooting death of businessman Marc Despain at a plea hearing in December before Circuit Judge Victor Hill.

Kelley, his daughter, Michelle Despain, the victims wife, and two others were charged in the killing.

Terrance Barker, the shooter, pleaded guilty to a first-degree murder charge and agreed to cooperate with authorities in future proceedings in exchange for a 35-year prison term.

Johnny Hubbard pleaded to a reduced charge of hindering apprehension and received an 18-year sentence. Additionally, his probation on a previous drug conviction was revoked and he was sentenced to 40 years. The prison terms are to run consecutively for a total of 58 years.

Michelle Despain, the final defendant in the case, is to appear at a preliminary hearing Jan. 28 and is set to go to trial Feb. 11 on a capital murder charge.

“With Kelley’s guilty plea and sentencing … the state is one step closer in obtaining justice for Marc Despain and his parents,” Ellington said. “(Friday’s) proceedings will allow us to focus our time and resources on the Michelle Despain case.”

The prosecutor said the victim’s parents Jack and Tana Despain, approved the plea agreement and sentencing.