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story.lead_photo.caption Ardell Burnell

LEWISVILLE, Ark. — A Lafayette County man was found guilty of murder in the stabbing death of his wife last year and was sentenced to life in prison.

Ardell Burnell, 41, was angry at his wife because of text messages he found on her cellphone, according to a probable cause affidavit. Crystal Burnell made a frantic 911 call from a neighbor's home Sept. 22, 2018, telling the dispatcher she'd been stabbed and needed an ambulance.

During the recorded emergency call, Crystal Burnell could be heard exclaiming as noises are heard in the background. Moments later, Ardell Burnell's voice told the operator to send an ambulance in the 500 block of Rose Street in Lewisville. While the dispatcher was transferring the 911 call to an emergency medical services operator, Ardell Burnell could be heard saying, "You dead, b****. I told you not to cheat on me."

When Lewisville Police Officer Ryan O'Neal arrived, he found Crystal Burnell dead in the neighbor's driveway of apparent stab wounds.

"O'Neal stated that Ardell Burnell advised him that he had murdered his wife," accordind to the affidavit.

The day after the stabbing, members of the Arkansas State Police executed a search warrant at the Burnells' home in the 500 block of Cunningham Street. They discovered a large pool of blood on the porch, bloody keys, a pair of women's shoes in the front yard and a cellphone, which was also dotted with blood.

Prosecuting Attorney Stephanie Potter Barrett who serves the 8th Judicial District South comprised of Miller and Lafayette counties, said investigators believe Ardell Burnell stabbed Crystal Burnell first at their home and again after she called 911 from a neighbor's home. The neighbor told investigators that she took refuge in her home after seeing Ardell Burnell coming at her and Crystal Burnell with a knife.

After hearing testimony concerning Ardell Burnell's prior criminal history, which includes a conviction for battery, the jury gave a life sentence. Deputy Prosecuting Attorneys David Cotten and David Freeze handled the case for the state.

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