The Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the murder and capital murder convictions of Terry Dean Birts, 28, of North Little Rock, who three years ago killed three people and who was convicted on capital murder charges.
He had been given a sentence of life without parole. His case was appealed to the Supreme Court on Jan. 30.
On Sept. 30, 2011, he was convicted of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, two counts of felony with a firearm, and capital murder in Pulaski County. On the capital murder conviction he was sentenced to a life term without the possibility of parole. On the two other murder charges, he was sentenced to 600 months apiece and on the firearms convictions he was given 180 months apiece.
On May 9, 2009, Arkansas State Troopers found a Ford Explorer belonging to Tammy Lawrence in the wood line off Interstate 40 near the Crystal Hill exit. Dead inside from apparent single gunshot wounds to the head were Lawrence and Ahki Hughes. Later the same day, troopers were called to the Springer Boulevard exit ramp off Interstate 440 where Barry Murphy was collapsed against the guard rail suffering from a gunshot wound. He was unconscious and later died as a result of his wounds.
According to the State of Arkansas’ legal brief in the Birts case, surveillance video footage from Cajun’s Warf showed Lawrence leaving with Hughes, Broderick Patrick and Terry Birts.
"A search of Tammy Lawrence’s home revealed a number of evidentiary items including a ceramic plate, a bottle of vodka and a glass upon all of which the fingerprints of Terry Birts were developed and identified," according to the brief. "Additionally, the fingerprints of Terry Birts were also developed and identified on the driver’s side near door of the Ford Explorer belonging to Tammy Lawrence."
The brief continues, "Evidence was collected at both scenes to indicate all victims were shot with the same .50 firearm. Multiple witnesses indicated Terry Birts is known to carry a .50 firearm."
Witness Tiffany Grimes gave a statement to the Arkansas State Police on April 28, 2010, indicating that Birts had discussed details of the murders of all three individuals to her.
"These discussions took place over the weekend of May 9, 2009, during a trip to Forest City, Arkansas as well as during a stay in Marianna, Arkansas in the days leading up to May 18, 2009," according to the brief. "Tiffany Grimes and Terry Birts were married in Marianna on May 18, 2009."
According to the brief, Birts told Grimes that he was in the back seat of the vehicle when he shot Hughes and Grimes in the back of their heads. Birts then drove the Ford Explorer to a wood line off Interstate 40.
"Terry Birts told Tiffany Grimes he took a shower at Kevin O’Donald’s house and told Kevin O’Donald to burn his clothes. Terry Birts told Tiffany Grimes that he left Kevin O’Donald’s house with Barry Murphy."
Another witness, Tavio Garrison, told state police on May 12, 2010, that Birts showed up at his girlfriend’s house with Murphy.
"Terry Birts told Tavio Garrison to help him clean up this mess," states the brief.
Garrison and Birts got into the backseat of a red Impala with Murphy in the front seat and Garrison driving.
"Tavio Garrison stated Terry Birts shot Barry Murphy in the right shoulder with a .50-caliber handgun and put Barry Murphy out on the Interstate 440 exit ramp to Springer Boulevard.
According to records kept with the Arkansas Department of Corrections, Birts was listed as a habitual offender.
In 2004, he was sentenced on three different charges in Pulaski County’s court system: a fleeing conviction on March 11; and two sentences on Nov. 22 comprising of terroristic act and possession firearms by certain persons. On all three convictions, he was given 60-month sentences.