Eleven years ago, a Mountain Home, Arkansas, woman shot and killed her live-in boyfriend and sentenced to almost two decades in prison.
She is now free again.
Rhonda Jean Clark was convicted of shooting and stabbing Antonio Sanchez III, on Thanksgiving eve of 2010.
Initially, the medical examiner’s report had shown Sanchez suffered two gunshot wounds, including one to the head, which authorities believed had been the fatal shot. However, during the trial, it was discovered that a wound inflicted to the victim's back was actually a stabbing puncture wound, six inches deep. The medical examiner was unable to determine the weapon used in the stabbing.
Two years later, on Dec. 21, 2012, Clark was found guilty and convicted by a Baxter County Circuit Court jury for second-degree murder.
During the trial, Clark’s defense lawyer described Sanchez as abusive, often resulting in domestic violence and mediation by law enforcement officers at the Old Tracy Ferry Road home the couple shared, according to the Baxter County Sheriff’s Office.
The defense lawyer had introduced a Baxter County Deputy Sheriff’s report from a couple of months before the murder to corroborate that argument. In the report, Clark had told the officer, Sanchez assaulted and choked her. In addition, she claimed to have suffered some injuries to her back and chest.
However, on that fateful day, Clark claimed Sanchez became very angry because of her refusal to accompany him to his father’s Mountain Home residence. Soon, an argument ensued, which spiraled into a verbal and physical altercation.
Clark’s co-worker at a restaurant along highway 412 East told the court that Clark said Sanchez had committed suicide on Thanksgiving Day.In a rebuttal, prosecutors dispelled the theory of suicide.
“You don’t shoot yourself twice in the back with a rifle and then stab yourself,” said an investigator who had worked on the case and testified for the prosecution, according to KTLO.COM.
Though she was initially charged with first-degree murder, the jury opted to convict her of a lesser charge of second-degree murder.
Clark had been called up for parole several times since her incarceration. However, last year September, her case was deferred by the state parole board.
In August, Clark was granted parole, according to KTLO. She has since been freed as she now longer appears on the Arkansas Department of Corrections website. That means she is back, free and amongst society.