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Two plead guilty to charges stemming from 2018 murder

Sixteenth Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Eric Hance’s office announced in a release that two Batesville men, Alexander G. Brosius, 27, and Jesse R. Shoemaker, 35, have pled guilty to charges stemming from the 2018 murder of Michael Bryant who was shot to death at a home on Harrison Street Annex.

The murder occurred on the evening of June 13, 2018, at a home that Bryant shared with his companion.

According to Hance’s office, store video shows Shoemaker stopping at Walmart just minutes before the shooting to buy ammunition for his rifle. Brosius drove Shoemaker’s truck to Bryant’s home, dropping Shoemaker, who was armed with the rifle, near the rear of Bryant’s house. Prosecutors said Bryant exited through the back door, where he was met by Brosius. Shoemaker then fired three shots, one of the shots proved fatal to Bryant. At least one of the bullets entered the house where Bryant’s companion was located, Hance’s release said.

Shoemaker and Brosius fled the scene in Shoemaker’s truck. A short time later, Shoemaker reported his truck had been stolen, but later confessed that he and Brosius had ditched the truck and the firearms to cover up the crime, Hance’s statement said.

Shoemaker confessed to the murder. The primary investigator in the case was Detective Sgt. Zach Rawlins with the Independence County Sheriff’s Office. Shoemaker pled guilty to the following counts on Mar. 17: First-degree murder; committing a terroristic act; illegal possession of body armor; filing a false report; and illegal use of a communication device. He received 35 years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections on the murder charge, 20 years on the terroristic act, and six years each on the possession of body armor, filing a false report, and illegal use of a communication device charges for a total of 73 years. Shoemaker has been held in the Independence County Jail since the shooting and will be transported to the Arkansas Department of Corrections.

Brosius previously pled guilty to three felony counts on Aug. 7, 2019: Conspiracy to commit first-degree murder; illegal possession of body armor, and possession of methamphetamine. He was sentenced to 30 years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections on the conspiracy to commit murder charge, 20 years on the drug charges, and six years on the possession of body armor charge for a total of 56 years. He has been at ADC since August 2019.

Court records indicate that neither defendant had prior felony convictions. A jury trial for Shoemaker had been scheduled for two weeks in April.

“In the world of COVID-19, we were all concerned about bringing in a large jury pool for this trial. The plea eliminates the need for trial,” Hance said. “I think it’s fair to say that crystal methamphetamine played a large role in these crimes. The connection between illegal drugs and violent crimes cannot be denied.”

The cases against the two co-defendants were presided over by Judge Tim Weaver in Independence County Circuit Court.

CORRECTION, 11:40 a.m., March 24, 2020: A reader pointed out that a previous version of this article, which featured a headline and lede from the original release, noted Brosius pled guilty to murder along with Shoemaker, when, in fact, Brosius pled guilty to conspiracy to commit first-degree murder stemming from the 2018 incident. For clarification, we have reposted the article with the changes, and we apologize for any confusion.

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