Prosecutor: Man admits killing Ark TV anchorwoman
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The man accused of killing an Arkansas television anchorwoman confessed three separate times to detectives that he committed the slaying, a deputy prosecutor said Tuesday.
Deputy Prosecutor John Johnson made the claim after defendant Curtis Lavelle Vance demanded access to the DNA evidence allegedly tying him to the death of Anne Pressly.
Vance did not deny the confessions, but he told Pulaski County Judge Chris Piazza the statements were made after police officers “put a gun in my face.”
“I was under extreme pressure,” Vance said.
Vance has pleaded not guilty.
After the hearing, Pulaski County Prosecutor Larry Jegley declined to talk to reporters. A gag order in the case bars defense lawyers, police, prosecutors and others from talking to the news media.
Vance, 28, of Marianna, faces a capital murder charge in the slaying of Pressly, a morning anchorwoman for KATV in Little Rock.
Pressly’s mother found the journalist severely beaten Oct. 20 after she missed a wake-up call at her Little Rock home. The anchorwoman died at a hospital five days later without ever regaining consciousness.
If convicted of capital murder, Vance would face either a death sentence or life in prison. Prosecutors have yet to say whether they’ll seek the death penalty in the case, scheduled for trial Sept. 9.
Piazza had scheduled Tuesday’s hearing to discuss an expected mental examination of Vance.
However, Vance refused to cooperate with a psychiatrist sent from the Arkansas State Hospital during a May interview. In a letter, the psychiatrist later told the court Vance refused to cooperate in a “rational” way.
Vance’s lead public defender, Katherine Streett, asked Piazza to commit her client to the Arkansas State Hospital for 30 days so doctors could examine his behavior. Streett said the state psychiatrist spent only 15 minutes with Vance and took no notes.
Vance raised his hands several times to signal to the judge that he wanted to speak.
“I refused to take the mental evaluation … because I don’t even know the facts,” Vance said, asking for more information about the DNA and hair sample tests the state Crime Laboratory has conducted.
Johnson later said some of the laboratory reports hadn’t been released because scientists needed to wait for a peer review of their work.
Piazza granted defense lawyers access to files about Vance held by state child welfare officials.
Streett described the records as “voluminous,” but what they contain remains unclear. Julie Munsell, a spokeswoman for the state’s child-welfare agency, said she could not discuss what they contained.