Attorney Charles Gibson
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A man acquitted of the murder of Nona Dirksmeyer who was beaten and stabbed in her Russellville apartment is suing the city's former police chief and an officer.
We continue to follow the multi-million dollar lawsuit filed Thursday by Kevin Jones (PDF), the man first tried in the murder of his girlfriend, Arkansas Tech student Nona Dirksmeyer. She was found stabbed and beaten to death at her Russellville apartment in 2005.
Jones was acquitted by a jury back in 2007, and now hopes to get justice in court by going after three players tied to his case.
The lawsuit names three people. They are James Bacon, the Russellville Police Chief at the time of Dirksmeyer's murder. Mark Frost, a detective and lead investigator in this case. And Gary Dunn, who was the second man tried in this case but after two mistrials was let go.
Some of the biggest claims here are conspiracy and allowing pride and ego to implicate Kevin Jones. The suit says specifically quote "to withhold evidence and falsify information toward having Kevin charged and prosecuted for Nona's murder, rather than Dunn."
A few examples in the suit say Dunn knowingly lied about his alibi at the time of the murder and that Frost and Bacon knew that and never told prosecutors.
It also claims Frost withheld investigative notes to state police, proving Dunn's alibi was false. And that Frost and Bacon worked to influence Dirksmeyer's family against Jones by visiting his mother late at night six days after the murder, trying to persuade her that Jones was guilty.
Again, back in 2007 a jury found Jones not guilty of killing his girlfriend, 19-year-old Nona Dirksmeyer. Dunn was later tried twice in this case but each time a jury deadlocked and the judge declared a mistrial. Dunn is a free man now but Jones' attorney told us by phone that they want another trial to implicate Dunn and prove the alleged cover-up.
"They didn't sit down and say here's the plan, it's more or less a resulting conspiracy," Attorney Charles Gibson said. "Frost had a pet theory based on a hunch that Kevin killed Nona in a jealous rage and six days after Nona was killed they went out on a limb and had a press conference and told the public they knew the identity of the killer."
Gibson also says they came out now with this lawsuit because the previous gag order on the case prevented them from gathering evidence for their case. But Gibson feels now that they have sufficient evidence and hope to get their day in court soon.
When we called Russellville Police Chief Tom McMillen Thursday about this lawsuit, he said this was the first he'd heard about it and said he had no comment. He did say that Detective Frost is still with the department while former chief Bacon is now working in Missouri as a police officer.
The lawsuit seeks a total of $10 million dollars in compensatory and punitive damages.
Gibson didn't want Jones to comment on this lawsuit but says he's currently a law student at UALR's Bowen School of Law.