The Pike County man charged with first-degree murder avoided trial by accepting a plea deal Monday in Pike County Circuit Court.
Phillip Gene Bates, 37, was scheduled for trial later this month pleaded guilty to the murder charge and being a felon in possession of a firearm. He was sentenced to a total of 40 years with six years suspended for the shooting death of Roy VanSlyke of Glenwood on Nov. 30 outside a residence near Lodi.
Bates was scheduled for a jury trial Sept. 25-26.
According to case information, the incident began around 4:25 p.m on Nov. 30 when the Pike County Sheriff’s Department requested assistance from the Arkansas State Police in the investigation of a reported homicide. The homicide happened outside the residence of Carlos Duggan, located on Highway 84 west of Glenwood.
A resident of the home, Charlotte Michelle Miller, 46, of Glenwood, told authorities Bates had made comments accusing VanSlyke of killing a person named “Brandon” by “cutting his throat.” Bates also reportedly said VanSlyke would “get his” for killing Brandon.
That day, VanSlyke reportedly arrived at the Duggan residence in a vehicle driven by Donny Cowart and occupied by Stephanie Benney. Witnesses at the residence stated Bates was armed with a rifle when the trio arrived by car and fired a shot in the air as he approached the vehicle. Bates then allegedly went to the front passenger door, lowered the rifle and fired one round through the open window which struck VanSlyke.
According to information added last week to Bates’ case file, VanSlyke was shot with a 30-30 rifle in the upper chest.
The vehicle left the residence with all three occupants inside and travelled west on Highway 84 to the home of Pike County Deputy Chase Reid and reported the incident. Court records do not indicate whether VanSlyke was alive when they arrived at the deputy’s home.
Miller told authorities that after the shooting she transported Bates in a private vehicle to his mother’s home on Highway 70 where “Bates exited the vehicle with the rifle used to shoot” the victim. After Miller dropped Bates off, she went to the Glenwood Police Department and reported the homicide.
When GPD Chief Clark Kinzler arrived later at the home of Bates’ mother, he reported Bates exited the home with his arms outstretched and then laid face down on the ground and was taken into custody without incident. He also told Kinzler, “I killed him, I had to kill him.”
Also Monday in Pike County court, two woman pleaded “true” to violating the terms of their probation and were sentenced. They include:
Bethaney Belt, 29, of Hot Springs, was sentenced to five years in the Arkansas Department of Correction with one year suspended.
Michele L. Garrison, 50, of Glenwood, had her probation period extended by two months and was ordered to receive rehabilitation.