Marion County Man Challenging Sentence in Theft Case

From: KTLO

A Marion County man sentenced to 55 years in the Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC) in October 2018 on felony charges of residential burglary, criminal attempt breaking or entering, breaking or entering, criminal mischief, theft of a firearm and theft of property has filed a Rule 37 petition, generally citing ineffective counsel.

Online court documents indicate 54-year-old Robert Cobb of Yellville is now represented by attorney Gary Potts of Monticello. Cobb was previously represented by deputy public defender Sam Pasthing.

A Marion County Circuit Court jury took an unusual step when it recommended consecutive sentences for Cobb totaling 61 years of incarceration. The longest single sentence recommended was 20 years in prison on a felony charge of residential burglary. The jury’s sentencing recommendations followed guilty verdicts on all seven counts against the Yellville man stemming from a burglary incident in November 2017.

Following the jury trial and recommended sentences, Circuit Judge Gordon Webb took the matter under advisement.

The following week in a letter, Judge Webb wrote the court was basically going to follow the jury’s recommended sentences. In addition to the 20 years on the residential burglary count, Cobb was sentenced to 15 years each on two theft of property charges, five years on a criminal mischief charge, and five years each on two breaking or entering charges, as well as one year in the county jail on a misdemeanor count of criminal mischief to commit breaking or entering, totaling 61 years.

Judge Webb’s ruling modified the jury’s recommendation only to the extent two felony breaking or entering sentences of five years each and the misdemeanor count will run concurrently with the other sentences. By law, the misdemeanor has to run concurrently. His decision reduced the total amount of the sentences from 61 to 55 years.

In October 2019, the Arkansas Court of Appeals affirmed Cobb’s conviction.

In Cobb’s Rule 37 petition with the Marion County Circuit Court he cites unlawful arrest, denial of a fair and impartial trial and denial of due process.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Christopher Carter has answered the Rule 37 petition, writing in part that Cobb alleges some bias between the court, the jury and the “alleged victim” without a hint in “his rambling petition as to what that prejudice may be.”

Carter says “what seems clear is the defendant is just throwing a bunch of claims around.”

He goes on to say the defendant, Cobb, after court appearances, a jury trial and an appeal, does not still know the name of the judge in the case. He places the name “George Webb” on multiple places in his petition.

Carter also notes Cobb contends he told his attorney who the actual thief was. However, Carter says Cobb “was caught by a game camera stealing items.” While the camera did not show Cobb’s face, it did reveal his shoes and hat, which he was wearing when arrested.

Cobb and 42-year-old Anthony Contreras of Summit were arrested and charged after deputies responded to a reported burglary along Water Tower Lane in Summit.

According to the probable cause affidavit, while processing the scene, from the deck of the residence one of the officers observed two male subjects, later identified as Cobb and Contreras, walking toward the residence. The residence had a locked gate at its entrance, which led to the officers parking their patrol cars nearly 100 yards south of the home.

The officer observed Cobb go to the front of the residence and Contreras to the rear, where he walked within a few feet of the Marion County corporal standing on the deck.

When ordered to stop and make his hands visible, Contreras dropped an item from his hand. Cobb was being escorted to the deck area at this point by the second officer.

When asked if the two suspects knew the owner and why were they were on the property, Cobb said he had seen three guys running from the location of the gate and was curious what was going on.

When Contreras was ordered to stop, Cobb was seen running toward the woods north of the residence carrying a ratchet, with a socket and a bag. The ratchet had been observed earlier on the ground in the driveway.

The bag and ratchet were identified by the homeowner as his property.

The report notes 15 firearms were reported missing, with extensive damage to the inside of the residence and to one of the gun safes. Other safes were reported stolen. In addition to the residence, items were missing from two storage buildings and a camper trailer.

The burglary was believed to have been going on for several days, while the owners were in Florida. Items were taken down a power line and staged for pickup, possibly at the railroad tracks.

Contreras was sentenced to six years in the DOC in July through a negotiated plea agreement for his role in the burglary.

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