One of many preliminary hearings was held last Friday in the murder case against Derrick Heard by the Third Judicial Circuit Court. Heard was charged with Capital Murder, Breaking or Entering, Theft of Property, and Possession of a Handgun by a Minor on July 28, 2017 following the investigation into the shooting death of Lt. Patrick Weatherford of the Newport Police Department.
According to Third Judicial District Prosecutor Henry Boyce, several motions were filed by Heard’s attorney, Ron Davis of Little Rock, but only three were actually heard: one being a motion for all discoveries to be shared, which Boyce’s office had already provided; another was to determine if Heard was competent to stand trial; and the third was a motion to transfer Heard to juvenile court.
The majority of the day’s proceedings focused on the second. Judge Harold Erwin heard testimony from Arkansas State Police Investigator Scott Pillow, a psychologist from the state hospital and Heard’s mother.
During the testimony, Judge Erwin heard testimony that Heard was, indeed, found competent to stand trial and understood the severity of the crime based on testing conducted at the state hospital by a licensed psychologist. Heard’s mother testified about his upbringing and other aspects of his personality. Evidence was produced showing eight prior convictions for felony theft, residential and commercial burglary, which indicated criminal conduct had been ongoing since Heard was at least 14 years old. Heard’s confession to the crime was also provided as evidence.
Based on the evidence presented, Judge Erwin made the determination that Heard was competent to proceed. Boyce said there will be a second hearing to determine whether statements are allowed as evidence for the Judge to determine guilt and that he fully anticipates Davis will argue that Heard was under mental disease or defect or this was a result of his upbringing.
For the third motion, there are at least six factors that the judge has to consider in order to determine eligibility to transfer a case to juvenile court. This motion was anticipated by the State as Davis had informed the prosecutor several months ago that he would attempt to have the case moved since Heard was 16 at the time of the crime. Boyce contends that the law allows the State to proceed with charging him as an adult since the charge was capital murder.
The court heard testimony from the Division of Youth Services about the services they could provide to help rehabilitate and return Heard to society. The State contended that Heard wasn’t entitled to that because they had offered evidence that Heard had been sent to DYS twice before. “Apparently their methods were not successful In rehabilitating Heard’s criminal behavior,” Boyce said.  
Pillow testified to the severity of the crime, evidence collected and other factors that would allow the court to determine the capability of the defendant to make adult decisions.
“I feel that we covered every aspect of that test in order to convince a trial judge to rule against the motion to transfer,” Boyce said Monday.
Another hearing will be held Friday when Judge Erwin will hear a motion to suppress the confession and provide rulings on the other two motions of the day.