A 36-year old Booneville man was charged Friday with leaving the scene of an accident involving death or personal injuries and negligent homicide in connection with a Tuesday night hit-and-run that left a 50-year old woman dead.
Joy Duvall was struck by a vehicle while walking southbound along Highway 23 near the intersection of Edwards Street. She was wearing a light color tank top, denim shorts and athletic shoes. Duvall, whose residence was listed in the 600 block of South Broadway — only blocks from where she was struck — was pronounced dead at the scene.
Rhodes was arrested by Arkansas State Troopers and transported to the Logan County Detention Center in Paris Friday afternoon. The leaving the scene charge is a Class D felony. The negligent homicide charge is a Class A misdemeanor.
According to an arrest warrant affidavit, Jason Lynn Rhodes was identified as a suspect in the accident that killed Duvall about 9:30 p.m. on June 17, via a tip from a convenience store clerk who stated she overheard patrons describing the accident and identifying Rhodes as the driver, and from a separate e-mail tip to the Logan County Sheriff’s Department.
Rhodes and his girlfriend, Sara Johnston were located on June 18 and agreed to come to the Booneville Police Department for an interview. Both told Special Agent Sam Bass of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigations Division and Sgt. Kevin Richmond that Rhodes had left their residence on Elm Street at about 9 a.m. to go to Johnston’s sister’s home, also in Booneville.
Rhodes said he was driving a GMC Acadia along Highway 23 when he struck something but he told investigators he did not see anything and that he checked his rear-view mirror in an attempt to see what he had hit with the vehicle. Rhodes told investigators he returned home a different route so he did not go by the scene of the accident.
On Wednesday, Booneville Police Chief Al Brown said there were no tire marks or debris at the accident scene. According to the Arkansas State Police fatality crash report, the weather was clear and road conditions were dry at the time of the accident.
Johnston told investigators when Rhodes returned home he told her he had hit something with the vehicle and that they examined the damage with a flashlight. She said she saw no blood.
When Rhodes was located Brown and BPD investigator Rusty Lewis observed damage on the right front of the vehicle including a cracked right headlight lens and body damage. The car also appeared to have been recently washed, according to the affidavit.