Arkansas man sentenced to life in death of 90-year-old woman

An Arkansas man who prosecutors say had become obsessed with zombies and wanted to know what it would feel like to kill someone was sentenced to life in prison Friday in the fatal shooting of a 90-year-old woman.

A Craighead County jury sentenced Jordan Tarver, 31, of Bay to three life terms, plus 22 years, after finding him guilty earlier in the day of capital murder, kidnapping, aggravated residential burglary, abuse of a corpse, theft of property and possession of a defaced firearm in the July 3, 2015, death of Lavinda Counce of Bay.

Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington had sought the death penalty, but said he was not disappointed with the jury’s decision.

“It was a crime that at least warranted us asking for (the death penalty),” Ellington told The Associated Press.

Prosecutors alleged Tarver had become obsessed with zombies and kidnapped and killed Counce because he wanted to know what it would feel like to kill someone.

Jurors were shown a video of Tarver confessing to the slaying.

“I have been watching a lot of `Walking Dead.’ An old person is the closest thing you can get to a zombie. I can’t explain it,” Tarver said during the police interview in July 2015.

Tarver testified that he confessed only to protect his family and that his statements were coerced.

A phone call to Tarver’s attorney late Friday afternoon was not answered

Counce was reported missing July 3, 2015, and her car was found the next day in a hospital parking lot in northeast Jonesboro, about eight miles away. Surveillance video showed a man that prosecutors said was Tarver getting out of the car and walking away.

Defense attorney Randel Miller told jurors that Tarver’s DNA was not found in the car, but prosecutors said a bag containing items consistent with a kidnapping, including a rope, crowbar and duct tape was found in Counce’s home and also held a washcloth with Tarver’s DNA on it.

Counce’s body, with a gunshot wound to the head, was found in a cornfield near Bay nine days after her disappearance.

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