Miller County jury finds man guilty of capital murder in Christmas 2022 shooting; Nathaniel Fort sentenced to life without parole

Nathaniel Fort
Nathaniel Fort

TEXARKANA, Ark. -- A Miller County jury convicted Nathaniel Fort of capital murder Thursday and sentenced him to life without parole.

Life without parole was the only option for a capital murder conviction since the death penalty had been waived.

Fort, 21, was convicted of killing Aaron Bruce on Christmas morning 2022 at an apartment complex on East 24th Street. Fort had accompanied his brother Tarus Walker to Bruce's apartment because Walker was angry that Bruce had disciplined his children at a Christmas party. Bruce was dating the mother of Walker's children, according to testimony.

Testimony and evidence revealed Bruce was shot six times. According to evidence, Walker shot Bruce first and Fort shot him after he was on the ground.

Nathaniel Fort's attorney, Tabitha Branch, made a motion Wednesday for the capital murder charge to be dismissed due to no proof of Fort being at the scene and no evidence of premeditation.

Miller County Prosecuting Attorney Connie Mitchell argued investigators had made a case for the jury based on testimony of a detective who personally knows Fort and video of a man identified as Nathaniel Fort leaving his job at Walmart on Christmas Eve wearing the same clothes the perpetrator at Aaron Bruce's apartment was wearing.

Mitchell and Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jeffrey Sams handled the case for the state.

Circuit Judge Brent Haltom denied Branch's motion, citing the positive identification of Fort as the perpetrator by a witness who knew him. Haltom also cited testimony from a witness who alleged that Fort shot Aaron Bruce after he was already on the ground from being shot by Walker.

Earlier this month, a jury found Walker, 25, also guilty of capital murder in Bruce's death and sentenced him to life without parole in the Arkansas Department of Corrections.

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