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Conte guilty on two counts of capital murder

Posted: January 18, 2013 - 5:05pm

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.

(Related stories can be found online at www.thecabin.net. Megan Reynolds is a staff writer and can be reached by phone at 501-505-1277 or by e-mail at megan.reynolds@thecabin.net.)



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ThePaleHorseman 01/18/13 - 05:56 pm
Anyone know why he murdered them?

I don't recall ever hearing what his motive was.

regular_joe 01/18/13 - 07:41 pm

the log cabin's articles said it was because he considered Elliott a threat and he wanted his ex-wife back.

I have also talked to some with knowledge of the case who said his 'fantasy' (his words in testimony) about being a black ops soldier was part of it. he wanted to see if he could do it.

Citizen of Conway
Citizen of Conway 01/19/13 - 09:14 am
More important question

Short version of motive. Lark was married to Carter Elliot. She later married and divorced Conte. Conte was fixated on Lark and thought if Carter was out of the picture she would come back to him.

The question not answered is why Prosecuting Attorney H.G. Foster and his successor Marcus Vaden refused to charge Conte in the murder. Is there something more that we should know?

regular_joe 01/19/13 - 02:28 pm
RE: More important question

As I understand it, the previous P.A.s didn't believe they had the evidence to get a conviction. Now, the current P.A. got a conviction, with local jurors, but it still remains to be seen if it will survive an appeal.

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