Co-defendant in local drug case disappears
By KELI JACOBI News-Times Staff The state suffered a setback this week in its long-running effort to prosecute four codefendants charged with numerous drug-related offenses, including charges they maintained a major drug premises at 2408 Nevada St. in El Dorado.
Jury selection was set to begin Thursday in the state’s case against Crystal L. Jenkins, 25; her sister, Felicia M. Evans, 23; her sister’s husband, Johnny F. Evans, 30 and Lavelle D. Evans, 28, but the last-minute disappearance of one of the co-defendants prompted the prosecutor to fi le a motion for continuance Wednesday.
Local law enforcement agencies have been searching for Crystal Jenkins for the last several days following the fi ling of a missing person’s report Sunday, according to Deputy Prosecutor Jeff Rogers.
Felicia Evans swore in a written affi davit that she had every reason to believe her sister intended to remain for the trial and that the family had "searched for Crystal in every location we believe she may have traveled in this area since the morning of Oct. 8." In that same affi davit, Felicia Evans said she overheard a telephone conversation between her sister and brotherin-law, Lavelle Evans, in which Crystal Jenkins agreed to meet Lavelle Evans at a convenience store and gas station at the corner of 19 th and North We s t Ave n ue early Saturday evening. Crystal Jenkins’ car was reportedly found parked at 819 E. Fourth St. later that night with only her cell phone inside.
Rogers told the News-Times on Thursday that Crystal Jenkins’ appearance at trial as a material witness was crucial to the state’s case against the other co-defendants.
"Her proposed testimony details the underlying facts in this case," he said. "The search warrant provided us with a foundation ... her testimony would’ve fl eshed out specifi cs of the drug operation."
In February 2005, deputies with the Union County Sheriff’s Offi ce executed a search warrant at the 2408 Nevada St. residence and uncovered approximately $5,000 in cash, fi ve pounds of marijuana, fi ve ounces of crystal methamphetamine, 1,000 bars of Xanax, a half ounce of ice meth and small amounts of Ecstasy, according to Union County Sheriff Ken Jones.
Jones estimated the street value of the drugs to be around $50,000 to $75,000 at the time of the search. Also seized were numerous fi rearms, in cluding a 9-mm semi-auto matic handgun, a 32-caliber semi-automatic handgun, an AK-47 assault rifl e and about 1,000 rounds of ammunition, along with assorted drug paraphernalia, said Jones.
Crystal Jenkins, Felicia Evans and Lavelle Evans were out on bond pending their trial, but Johnny Evans is incarcerated with the Arkansas Department of Correction on a prior felony conviction.
Circuit Judge Hamilton H. Singleton granted the state’s motion for continuance following Thursday’s hearing and reset the trial for Nov. 13-15. He also approved the prosecutor’s request to exclude the extra time for speedy trial purposes.