Mentally Ill Man Acquitted of Two Slayings

HARRISON, AR - A Bellefonte man accused of using an assault rifle to kill two men has been acquitted because of mental illness.

Instead of standing trial, 57-year-old Ronald Eddings will be sent to the State Hospital in Little Rock.  Circuit Judge John Putman ruled that Eddings was not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.

Eddings was charged with capital murder and first-degree murder for the November 2007 killings of 47-year-old Jerry Lee Smith and 65-year-old Jimmy Charles "Red" Davis.

Authorities say the victims went to Eddings' home and were killed after Eddings became frightened when Smith gave him a cigarette.  An arrest affidavit says Eddings told investigators the cigarette made his heart race and he believed people were conspiring to kill him.  The affidavit says Eddings thought people had been trying to kill or poison him for years.

The judge ruled that he will keep jurisdiction over Eddings' case, meaning Eddings won't go free without Putnam's clearance.

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