A homeless man accused of causing a crash Monday afternoon that claimed the life of Lafayette County, Ark., Chief Deputy Pete Richardson appeared in court on a murder charge Tuesday morning.

Michael Lee Ackart, 28, stood in a courtroom at the Miller County jail wearing cuffs, shackles and jailhouse orange, surrounded by law enforcement, before Circuit Judge Kirk Johnson for a first court appearance on a second-degree murder charge.

Johnson ordered Ackart held without bond. Second-degree murder is punishable by six to 30 years and a fine up to $15,000. Johnson, whose district serves Miller and Lafayette Counties, scheduled Ackart to return to court in Lafayette County next month.

Richardson, a 19-year veteran of the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Office, was driving westbound on U.S. Highway 82 about four miles from Lewisville, Ark., when Ackart, a homeless man from the Tulsa, Okla., area, allegedly grabbed the wheel.

Richardson’s SUV sideswiped another SUV before crossing into the eastbound lanes where he collided with an 18-wheeler, according to information.

Prosecuting Attorney Carlton Jones said Richardson had offered Ackart a ride to a Texarkana homeless shelter.

See more details in Wednesday's print and online editions.

Published: 03/18/2014