Thieves Get 8 Years for Roles in High Speed Chase that Led to West Memphis Cop's Death

AUGUST 18, 2004 - Posted at 4:17 p.m. CDT

WEST MEMPHIS, AR - Two men were sentenced to eight years in prison after pleading guilty to charges in a car chase that led to the death of a West Memphis police officer.

Terrell Kinnell and Otis Vernell Graham pleaded guilty to theft charges, a class C felony, in exchange for prosecutors' not pursuing murder charges in the death of officer Michael Waters.

A third suspect, Martine Fondren, is in a Tennessee prison serving a theft sentence and will be prosecuted for first degree murder once he is released into Arkansas custody.

Waters was chasing the suspects eastbound on Interstate-55 through a construction zone.  Fondren drove his car through construction barrels on the closed lane of the interstate.  Waters' patrol car struck a concrete barricade, flipped over and ejected him from the vehicle.  Waters was then struck by another vehicle.

Robert Hester, a police trainee, was a passenger in the patrol car and was injured.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)