The Helena-West Helena City Council heard from Mr. Cedric Lacey, brother of 55-year-old murder victim Fredrick Lacey, during the Tuesday, October 16, 2018.
On Wednesday, May 23, 2018 18-year-old Javon Byrd was arrested in connection to the murder of Lacey and charged with Capital Murder, Attempted Aggravated Robbery, and Terroristic Act. He was being held without bond.
According to witnesses, Mr. Fredrick Lacey was sitting inside his vehicle at a stop sign in the area of Garland and 5th Street, when Byrd reportedly approached the Lacey’s vehicle and fired several rounds, striking him multiple times.
After being shot, Lacey drove himself two blocks to 431 Anderson, where he wrecked.
Lacey was transported by Pafford to Helena Regional Medical Center.
According to reports, Lacey gave a dying declaration to a police officer, naming the person who shot him, before he expired.
Cedric Lacey, representing the Lacey family, told the council they had not received any type of update on the progress of the investigation.
“My brother was shot and killed, right here on the streets of Helena-West Helena, the same place where I grew up,” said Cedrick Lacey. “I attended school right here in West Helena. I since left in 1982 and spent 20 years in the military.”
“I was the unfortunate recipient, plus my family to be on the phone getting a play by play of what was going on, once he got shot,” said Lacey. “Shortly there after I see in the newspaper, a person has been arrested. His face is plastered all over the news, everywhere.”
“I’m waiting to see what they are going to do,” said Lacey. “Is this person going to be arraigned, bail set. I kept calling, and calling and leaving messages, and I never heard anything back. My sisters live here. They tried to get information, somebody to tell us what’s going on. We’re suppose to know something and here we’ve got nothing.”
“I decided to write letters, one to the Prosecutor, the Chief of Police and to the Mayor,” said Lacey. “I heard nothing back.”
“My sister finally got a call from the prosecutors office,” said Lacey. “The prosecutor’s office tells my sister, ‘Well, we’ve got some not so good news’. This is in September. Up until now, we’ve heard nothing at all. The Prosecutor told the Lacey family, that they could not hold the murder suspect.”
We asked, “Why can’t you hold him? What about the evidence you have? What about ballistic reports? We were told by the prosecuting attorney that courts don’t really look at gun powder residue any more.”
Mr. Lacey had much more to say about the case, what his family is still going through, and the response from local officials to his family.
“That person was released after 60 days,” said Lacey. “The prosecutor told us the suspect had been held for 60 days and they could not hold him. This person is on the streets and our family has no answers. We were told they had to release the suspect after 60 days Due Process because they did not have enough information.”
City Attorney Andre Valley told the City Council, “The Prosecuting Attorney has 60 days to file. The police department submits information to the prosecutor. They go back and forth until the prosecutor files that information. If it’s not filed within 60 days the suspect is released. It’s my understanding in this particular case, that the arrest was made in May and the release was in September.”
Police Chief James Patrick Smith was asked by Mayor Jay Hollowell to update the council as much as he could, about this case and the circumstances surrounding the release of the Capital Murder suspect.
“First of all, I want to say to the Lacey family, I’m sorry about your loss and we are going to get some answers for you,” said Chief Smith. This is not over. The investigation is still ongoing at this time.”
Council member John Huff said to Chief Smith, “So the information was not filed?”
“Information was filed, and the case actually put on the docket,” said Chief Smith. “We felt that we had enough to have this person locked up. The Prosecutor said he needed more information, because two particular witnesses who he felt their testimony had some loop holes in them. So he wanted to go back and review everything. In all my years of experience, a dying declaration, has been enough to lock someone up. Especially when a certified officer took the declaration. I really don’t want to talk about this because it’s an ongoing investigation.
“My officers, and I take responsibility,” said Chief Smith, “We should have gotten this information and spoken with this person. However, we did go back and talk to some other individuals
City Attorney Valley pointed out that attorney Don Etherly was present who has been appointed by the Judge to represent the murder suspect and that the Chief does not need to say to much about this ongoing case.
“The one thing I looked at was I needed resources,” said Chief Smith. “I’ve contacted Cold Case out of LA. They’re going to come in with investigators to help solve this case.
Chief Smith met with the Lacey family outside the City Council Chambers as the Council moved on to other business.
More on this investigation as information becomes available.
In other business, Chief Smith presented the Council with a plan to curb officer overtime and had a discussion about the purchase of a new police car.
The Council discussed speed breakers for Kentucky Street.