After only 35 minutes of deliberation following four days of testimony and evidence, a jury found Richard Conte guilty of two counts of capital murder.
The 63-year-old from Carson City, Nev. was charged with two counts of capital murder in 2011 for the 2002 shooting deaths of Carter Elliott, 49, and Timothy Wayne Robertson, 25, at Elliott’s home in West Conway.
The pair were shot execution-style some time between May 18-19, 2002 in Elliott’s home in Shady Valley subdivision.
Witnesses for the defense took to the stand Friday morning, with testimonies ending around 11:25 a.m.
Court reconvened at 1:45 p.m. for closing statements.
Judge Charles E. Clawson II sentenced Conte to life in the Arkansas Department of Corrections for the murder of Elliott, with a firearm sentencing enhancement of an additional 15 years to run consecutively with the life sentence.
Conte was also sentenced to life in ADC for the murder of Robertson, with a firearm sentencing enhancement of an additional 15 years to run consecutively with the life sentence.
Family members of Elliott and Robertson smiled, cried and embraced one another outside the courtroom following sentencing.
Lark Swartz, ex-wife to both Conte and Elliott, said she felt justice was served.
“I am just thrilled and thankful for the outcome,” Swartz said.
James Robertson, father to Timmy Wayne, watched Conte as he was escorted from the courtroom in his wheelchair wearing handcuffs. He said that though nothing will bring his son back, he felt “a little bit of closure” following the guilty verdicts.
Both sets of sentences will run consecutively. Conte has 30 days to file an appeal.
“We were very confident in our case,” said Prosecutor Cody Hiland. “The fact that the jury returned the verdict so quickly is a testament to the strength of the case and the job that Troy (Braswell) and Joan (Shipley) did. Work by Jim Barrett and the Conway Police Department, investigators with the Arkansas State Police, and Rick Brown with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office all helped lead to a conviction after a decade.”
“I am most proud that the family gets some resolution,” Hiland said. “Justice is a poor substitute for the loss of a loved one, but if that is something that we can give them that to an extent, helps them heal, I’m proud of that.”
Hiland said that with the verdict comes the answer to a 10-year-old question for the entire community.