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story.lead_photo.caption Markelle Demetrice Davis

A man accused of shooting a woman in the face earlier this year in the parking lot of a Texarkana, Ark., apartment complex pleaded not guilty to murder Tuesday at a hearing in a Miller County courtroom.

Markelle Demetrice Davis, 19, appeared before Circuit Judge Brent Haltom for arraignment with defense attorney B.C. Pickett, who offices in Texarkana and Fayetteville, Ark. Pickett entered a plea of not guilty on Davis' behalf and asked that a hearing be set to address a defense request to lower Davis' existing $1 million bail. Haltom tentatively set a hearing to address the bond issue for July 16 and instructed Pickett to file a formal motion.

Davis is accused of killing Jaqualyn Paxton, 18, with a single shot fired in the parking lot of the Village Park South apartments at 2225 East St. shortly after midnight April 17, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Miller County Sheriff's Office deputies who were parked in the 2300 block of East Street witnessed a disturbance and heard a shot from across the street. They were able to take Davis into custody just moments after the shooting.

The deputies saw a 1993 Oldsmobile Cutlass Sierra speeding from the scene and were able to stop the car and take Davis into custody just two blocks from the site of the shooting. Davis allegedly told deputies that his pistol was in the car though they were unable to find it. Two pistol magazines were allegedly found in his pockets and the car was seized.

Texarkana, Ark., police responded to the report of a shooting about 12:30 a.m. Wednesday and discovered that Paxton had been taken to Wadley Regional Medical Center by civilians in a private car. The two people in the car reported they were driving through the parking lot when they witnessed Davis and Paxton arguing and then heard a shot.

The witnesses reported that they saw Davis driving away before seeing Paxton lying on the pavement. The witnesses told police they placed Paxton in their car and drove her to Wadley, where she later died. The witnesses reported seeing deputies with Davis on the side of the road as they traveled to the hospital.

Police believe Paxton and Davis were arguing at the time of the shooting. Other witnesses allegedly reported seeing the shooting and identified Davis as the shooter.

If convicted of murder, Davis faces 10 to 40 years or life in an Arkansas prison. Prosecuting Attorney Stephanie Potter Barrett filed a firearm enhancement along with a charge of murder last month. The enhancement could net Davis an additional 15 years in prison which must be served consecutively to any underlying term he might receive if convicted of murder. Davis remains in the Miller County jail.

Haltom scheduled the case for a pretrial hearing in early August and for jury selection Aug. 26. Davis' trial date is subject to change if either the state or defense requests additional time.

llarowe@texarkanagazette.com

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