The state has waived the death penalty in the case against a man accused in the March 20 murder of Billy Joe Ewing.
Clayton Monsees, 31, was charged with capital murder following the shooting and stabbing death of Ewing at his home.
Prosecutors also charged Ewing’s wife and Monsees’ ex-wife, Amanda Leigh Ewing, 27, as an accomplice in his murder.
Monsees appeared in Faulkner County Circuit court on Tuesday, where his case was transferred from Judge David Reynolds’ 1st Division court to 2nd Division court under Judge Michael Maggio following the continuance of the case.
“There are aggravators and mitigators under current law that have to be evaluated before going forward with the death penalty in any case,” said Prosecutor Cody Hiland. “However, when there are multiple defendants involved in the same case there are obviously other factors that must be taken into account that we wouldn’t be at liberty to discuss until later in process.”
Reports indicate that Ewing, 27, arrived at the residence on Laramie Road shortly before midnight March 20 and confronted Monsees in his home.
Monsees was allegedly involved in an altercation with Ewing and officials believe he shot Ewing once in the throat and then stabbed him in the shoulder. Ewing was able to make it across the yard to his mother’s home, where he reportedly gave a statement to his mother implicating his attacker.
He was transported by ambulance to Conway Regional Medical Center, where he later succumbed to his injuries.
Monsees was apprehended by authorities the following day, after being on the run for several hours.
Amanda Ewing was arrested on April 4.
In a July forensic evaluation by Counseling Associates, Monsees told interviewers that he met Amanda Ewing through the Internet around 2002 and eventually married her.
Monsees said he had been in Arkansas less than 24 hours when the incident occurred, having left from Wisconsin on a Greyhound bus before catching a ride to Greenbrier. When asked why he traveled to Arkansas, Monsees reportedly responded, “To start over, get a place, get a job, something better.”
According to the report, Monsees acknowledged his complicity in the incident, but consistently denied any planning or premeditation, telling the interviewer that he hoped to have the charge reduced to first-degree murder. “But if (the charge isn’t reduced) I would be willing to take life,” he said.
When asked directly whether he shot or stabbed Ewing, he reportedly replied, “Yes.”
He disputed the role of Amanda Ewing in the incident as relayed in the police reports, but denied comment on his version of events on the night in question.
In the report, Monsees also disclosed to interviewers a history of sexual abuse by his biological mother between the ages of 1 and 5, and two prior convictions — one for attempted robbery in 2003 and another for a burglary charge in Tennesssee — “Somewhere,” he said. “I don’t even remember it.” Monsees added that he tried to join the Army but went AWOL before boot camp.
The capital murder charges carry two enhancements; one because a .22 caliber firearm was used in the commission of the crime and the other because the crime was committed in the presence of three minor children, two of which belonged to the victim.
Both Monsees and Ewing have pleaded not guilty to the Class Y felony and are being held in Faulkner County jail on $500,000 cash bond.
A pretrial hearing for Monsees has been set for 9 a.m. Jan. 7, 2013. Amanda Ewing will appear in court for a pretrial hearing at 9 a.m. Dec. 6 in Division 1 with Judge Reynolds presiding.
(Megan Reynolds is a staff writer and can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 505-1277. Follow us on Twitter @lcdonline.)