Texarkana, TX 41° View Live Radar Sun H 62° L 39° Mon H 58° L 41° Tue H 61° L 47° Weather Sponsored By:

Hearing cleans up trial record

Hearing cleans up trial record

Process is part of the appeal of woman sentenced to life for murdering fellow square dancer

November 18th, 2017 by Lynn LaRowe in Texarkana News
Virginia Hyatt, 69, speaks with a member of her defense team, Texarkana lawyer Bruce Condit, before a hearing Friday afternoon in a courtroom at the Miller County jail. Hyatt is appealing her 2016 capital murder conviction for the 2013 murder of Patti Wheelington in Texarkana, Ark. Friday's hearing was held to address issues with the trial's official record at the request of the Arkansas Supreme Court.

Virginia Hyatt, 69, speaks with a member of...

Photo by Galveston County Daily News /Texarkana Gazette.

A Texarkana woman sentenced last year to life without parole for murdering a fellow square dancer was back in Miller County, Ark., for a court hearing Friday afternoon.

Virginia Ann Hyatt, 69, sat in a wheelchair as a member of the Miller County Sheriff's Office pushed her into the courtroom Friday afternoon at the Miller County jail complex. Hyatt was found guilty by a Miller County jury in the December 2013 shooting death of Patricia "Patti" Wheelington, 54.

Wheelington, Hyatt and Hyatt's husband were members of the Guys and Dolls dance club in Texarkana, Ark., and Hyatt blamed Wheelington for the demise of her decades long marriage. Wheelington was shot as she sat in a bath robe on the front porch of her South Valley Road home in Texarkana, Ark., drinking her morning coffee. Hyatt has been in Arkansas Department of Correction custody since her conviction.

Members of Hyatt's defense team, Texarkana lawyers John Pickett, Bruce Condit and Damon Young, worked with Prosecuting Attorney Stephanie Black, Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Chuck Black and Circuit Judge Randal Wright to address issues Friday in the official record of Hyatt's February 2016 capital murder trial.

The case is on appeal to the Arkansas Supreme Court. The higher court recently issued an order identifying problems with exhibits, including video evidence, encountered during the review of the case necessary to address the appeal.

A mislabeled copy of a video of Hyatt traveling through a McDonald's drive-through the morning of the murder was among the minor issues settled Friday by the trial court. A document stipulating certain facts about the trial and the official record along with correctly labeled discs and other evidence used at trial will now be forwarded to the higher court so that they can decide whether Hyatt's appeal has merit.

Hyatt has complained that the evidence at trial was insufficient to support the jury's finding of guilt.

During the trial, the jury heard testimony from many members of the now defunct Guys and Dolls club regarding Hyatt's undisguised animosity toward Wheelington. Witnesses testified that Hyatt was proficient in the use of a pistol and that she had previously gone to Wheelington's home uninvited to confront her.

Hyatt claimed she couldn't have killed Wheelington because she was at her mother's nursing home visiting with her and delivering a McDonald's sausage biscuit. Video footage from the nursing and from McDonald's showed Hyatt's activities actually occurred later in the morning than she claimed, and video footage from a convenience store showed a car which appeared to be Hyatt's traveling a road near Wheelington's home around the time of the killing.



Getting Started/Comments Policy

Getting started

  1. 1. If you frequently comment on news websites then you may already have a Disqus account. If so, click the "Login" button at the top right of the comment widget and choose whether you'd rather log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, or a Disqus account.
  2. 2. If you've forgotten your password, Disqus will email you a link that will allow you to create a new one. Easy!
  3. 3. If you're not a member yet, Disqus will go ahead and register you. It's seamless and takes about 10 seconds.
  4. 4. To register, either go through the login process or just click in the box that says "join the discussion," type your comment, and either choose a social media platform to log you in or create a Disqus account with your email address.
  5. 5. If you use Twitter, Facebook or Google to log in, you will need to stay logged into that platform in order to comment. If you create a Disqus account instead, you'll need to remember your Disqus password. Either way, you can change your display name if you'd rather not show off your real name.
  6. 6. Don't be a huge jerk or do anything illegal, and you'll be fine.

Texarkana Gazette Comments Policy

The Texarkana Gazette web sites include interactive areas in which users can express opinions and share ideas and information. We cannot and do not monitor all of the material submitted to the website. Additionally, we do not control, and are not responsible for, content submitted by users. By using the web sites, you may be exposed to content that you may find offensive, indecent, inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise objectionable. You agree that you must evaluate, and bear all risks associated with, the use of the Gazette web sites and any content on the Gazette web sites, including, but not limited to, whether you should rely on such content. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you acknowledge that we shall have the right (but not the obligation) to review any content that you have submitted to the Gazette, and to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content that we determine, in our sole discretion, (a) does not comply with the terms and conditions of this agreement; (b) might violate any law, infringe upon the rights of third parties, or subject us to liability for any reason; or (c) might adversely affect our public image, reputation or goodwill. Moreover, we reserve the right to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content at any time, for the reasons set forth above, for any other reason, or for no reason. If you believe that any content on any of the Gazette web sites infringes upon any copyrights that you own, please contact us pursuant to the procedures outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Title 17 U.S.C. § 512) at the following address:

Copyright Agent
The Texarkana Gazette
15 Pine Street
Texarkana, TX 75501
Phone: 903-794-3311
Email: webeditor@texarkanagazette.com