Millbrooks sentenced; parole eligible soon

NO ADDITIONAL TIME GIVEN FOR FAILING TO APPEAR ON SCHEDULED DATE; COULD BE FREE BEFORE YEAR’S END

The man who failed to return from a 10-day “furlough” after entering a plea deal for his role in the shooting death of Roosevelt Willis in 2010 received 22 years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections this morning.

The sentence was the same that was recommended before he fled, and it was announced in court that he will be eligible for parole in as little as three months.

Anthony Antwan Millbrooks, 26, pleaded guilty to a charge of manslaughter with enhancements on Monday, Aug. 12. The charge was reduced from first-degree murder, and additional charges of engaging in a violent criminal group activity, criminal attempt of first-degree murder and unlawful discharge of a firearm from a vehicle were nolle prosequi.

At the time, Millbrooks’ lawyer, public defender Patrick Benca, asked for time for Millbrooks to get his affairs in order and he was awarded 10 days by Circuit Judge L.T. Simes despite objections from Deputy Prosecutor Chris Morledge. Millbrooks was to appear before Simes on Thursday, Aug. 22, but did not return.

A fugitive warrant was issued for Millbrooks with a $1 million cash bond. Millbrooks surrendered to the Jonesboro Police Department on Wednesday, six days after he was scheduled back in court. He appeared before Simes this morning in St. Francis County Circuit Court.

Simes reviewed the history of the case briefly and called Millbrooks and Benca to the bench.

Benca said he made the request for Millbrooks because the defendant wanted to see a newborn baby.

Benca added that by the calculations of Millbrooks’ sentence, with credit for time served, Millbrooks would be eligible for parole in about three months.

“Mr. Millbrooks has expressed to me that he is sorry,” said Benca.

Simes asked if the statement was also an apology from Benca himself, and Benca said he was apologizing to the court.

Simes asked Millbrooks if he apologized, and Millbrooks said he did. Millbrooks was then allowed to address the court.

“That was not my intention (not to return on Aug. 22),” said Millbrooks. “I was in Jonesboro, and I knew it was too late to come in.”

Simes mentioned that Millbrooks made a call to a court official on Aug. 22, and Millbrooks admitted that he did make a call regarding his court appearance.

At this morning’s hearing, Simes addressed for the first time why he made the decision to allow Millbrooks to leave.

“Your lawyer persuaded me to do what is always in my heart, which is justice tempered with mercy,” said Simes. “He assured me that it would not be a problem. Well, it was a problem. You signed your plea agreement and you did not come back. Various media have asked me why I gave you this furlough, but I couldn’t speak about it until now.”

Simes gave Morledge an opportunity to speak, and he responded that the state was present for sentencing.

Simes sentenced Millbrooks to 22 years in the ADC and court was adjourned.

Simes met with Benca, Morledge and several members of the media prior to the hearing to address broadcasting, recording and taking pictures in the courtroom. Simes read a section of the law that stated that those actions could be prohibited if objections were raised, and that both Benca and Morledge had raised objections. Simes ordered, in his chambers and on the record in open court, that no broadcasting, recordings or photographs could be made during the proceeding inside the courtroom or adjacent areas. Simes also ordered that they could not be done in those areas immediately after the hearing.