Jury delivers sentence in Counce murder trial

Tarver Trial Conclusion
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
Richard Tarver (Source: Craighead Co. Sheriff's Office)
Richard Tarver (Source: Craighead Co. Sheriff's Office)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - 4:20 UPDATE: The jury has sentenced Richard Tarver to life in prison without parole.

According to a press release from Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington's office, the jury imposed the maximum of three life sentences plus 22 years for the six charges he was facing.

"I find it ironic that the Defendant called the police officer 'a monster' for coming into his home with a valid search warrant, when the Defendant walked into Ms. Counce's home, put her into the trunk of her car, and drove around looking for a place to shoot her," Ellington said. "It was a senseless act just to satisfy his sick lust for death. I believe it is clear who the real monster in this case is."

Ellington also praised the investigative efforts of Sheriff Marty Boyd, Bay Police Chief Paul Keith, the Craighead County Sheriff's Department, and the Bay Police Department for their work in achieving justice for Counce and her family.

Tarver is in custody of Craighead County Sheriff Marty Boyd to await transport to the Arkansas Department of Corrections Maximum Security Unit.

The jury returned Friday with a guilty verdict for Richard Jordon Tarver in the July 2015 death of Lavinda Counce.

He was found guilty of capital murder; aggravated residential robbery; kidnapping; theft of property more then $1,000 less then $5,000; abuse of a corpse; and possession of a defaced firearm.

The jury will begin deliberations on Tarver's sentence Friday afternoon.

The jury was given instructions on making their sentencing decision. The prosecution and defense both made a case for what they should choose.

The prosecution asked the jury to think about July 3, 2015 from Lavinda's perspective. They said she had no chance to escape and her fate was unknown.

The court went into recess around 2:45 p.m. The jury will hear from the prosecution again before beginning deliberations.

Craighead County Sheriff Marty Boyd said he feels justice has been served and prevailed in this trial following the verdict.

Police arrested Tarver at his home after volunteers spent several days looking for Counce until they found her body in a corn field. Police ruled Counce's death a homicide when they found a bullet.

Throughout the trial, prosecutors stated Tarver wanted to see what it was like to kill someone and had developed an infatuation with zombies and the apocalypse. The defense team explained that Tarver admitted to killing Counce because he thought officers would arrest his wife and take his children.

Click here to read about the trial.

Court documents stated Tarver admitted to killing Counce.

Beloved by many in the community, Counce was known for putting the concerns of others before herself.

Stay with Region 8 News on-air and online for more details as we receive them.

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