Michelle DeSpain



On August 24, 2011 Michelle DeSpain called 911 from her Jonesboro Arkansas home and reported that she found her thirty-four year old husband, Marc shot inside their home. Officers would arrive on the scene and almost immediately knew things did not look right. While Marc lay dead in the home, the house looked as if it had been ransacked but in a way in which the investigators thought looked staged. Soon as officers were surrounding the scene Marc's parents and sister were on the scene. Michelle immediately let investigators know that she believed Marc's father was involved in Marc's murder.

In a situation such as this obviously those closest to the victim are the first to be suspected but it is a rare case when a parent is involved in the murder of their grown child. In fact, I have to say that I cannot think of any particular cases off the top of my head. Of course there are cases where parents kill their children but those cases almost exclusively revolve around young children still living in the home. The only off the cuff cases I can think of where a parent has killed a grown child have not been “who done it” cases. They almost always revolve around arguments at the home and the parent readily confesses and in general will attempt self defense. Marc's father, Jack, did not seem to fall into this category, so why was Michelle telling investigators she was sure he was involved? Well, they would learn later that Michelle's motive was more self preservation but initially they had to look into it and they really did not like what they saw. It was true that Jack and Marc did not have a good relationship. Most of it had revolved around the fact that Michelle's daughter from a previous relationship, in which Marc and his family had taken as one of their own, had supposedly accused Jack of molesting her. It seems that while authorities did not believe the claims Michelle and Marc did and cut off contact with his parents. They also had disputes over money and property. Marc had followed in his parents' footsteps into the real estate business but had attempted to separate as their relationship soured. Investigators had to look into Michelle's theory that Jack was involved but early on investigators were sure this was not the right track. Of course they had to have the evidence to prove their gut feelings and that too came rather quickly. So now the case was at a stand still. For their part, Marc's family was certain that Michelle, the mother of their grandchildren, was the one involved in the crime.

The case blew wide open when investigators got a tip that a man by the name of Terrance Barker was boasting to people that he was involved in the murder of Marc DeSpain. By May of 2012 four people would be arrested and charged in the murder. They would include a man named Johnny Hubbard, Terrance Barker, Michelle DeSpain and her father, Carl Kelley. So, according to prosecutors a father was involved, but it was Michelle's and not Marc's as Michelle attempted to convince them.

The evidence apparently followed the prosecution theory as to what occurred and transpired in the crime so we will start there. Prosecutors came to believe that Michelle and her father, Carl Kelley, had come up with the idea of the murder. They believe the motive was the nearly one million dollars in life insurance that Michelle stood to inherit. They had learned that she had what they called “a side lover” that she was financially supporting and money was not coming in as it once was. It is believed that once Michelle and Carl came up with the plan that Carl met up with Hubband who introduced him to Barker. Michelle would lure Marc out of the home during the lunch hour so that Barker could get into the home. Witnesses would report seeing Carl Kelley's vehicle at the home at the time of the murder and prosecutors would believe that he had taken Barker to the home. Barker would tell investigators that while he committed the murder that Kelley was on his phone giving a “play by play” to someone, who they would come to believe was Michelle, on the phone. Text messages between the two would confirm this to investigators. They would believe that after killing Terrance the home was ransacked to look as if it was a robbery and then Michelle returned home only to call 911 and claim to report coming home to find Marc dead.

In the end no one ended up going to trial in this case as all four of those involved would plead guilty. Johnny Hubbard would plead guilty to hindering apprehension. He would also receive a probation violation from a previous drug charge. Just exactly how much time he got combined seemed to be a bit confusing. Some things say he received eighteen years while others say the total was forty-eight due to the probation violation. Terrance Barker would also plead guilty to first degree murder, with the agreement to testify against others if needed. He would receive a sentence of thirty-five years. Next to plead was Carl Kelley. He too would plead guilty to first degree murder and like Terrance receive a thirty-five sentence. Michelle would be the last person to plea, in August of 2014 after several delays in a trial. She was facing a capital murder charge but after consulting with Marc's family it was agreed that she could plead guilty to three counts of hindering apprehension and she received a sentence of thirty years.


A look at the Arkansas Department of Corrections shows that all of the perpetrators remain in prison. The first person to face a parole hearing is Michelle in 2019. Hubbard comes up for parole in 2025 (hence why information on his exact sentence seems sketchy at best) and both Terrance and Carl are looking at the year 2036. One thing that the DOC site showed, that most do not, was the programs that each inmate participates in. According to that it appears that Terrance and Carl have both participated in anger management courses early on in their incarceration, and one or two more later. While Michelle has participated is six different programs, Hubbard has participated in none. I do not expect Michelle to make parole in 2019 considering the seriousness of not necessarily the charges she pleaded to but her actual crime.  

Comments

  1. Not requesting you to publish this comment, as it's unrelated to this story (no general discussion post that I can find). I just want to give a suggestion for a case to cover.

    I think the Kirstin Blaise Lobato case could be very interesting to feature on your blog. To me, it's one of those cases where guilt or innocence is a tough call, though Kirstin seems to have plenty of supporters.

    At this time, I lean somewhat toward thinking that I would have voted to convict her if I was on either of the juries she faced. Granted, there's a lack of physical evidence against her, but there's also the fact that she confessed to a similar attack she claims was in self defense but which she also claims was against a different man than the man she was convicted of killing, weeks prior, but which hasn't so far been confirmed. Ms. Lobato was also an admitted drug user, so it's seemingly plausible she got dates confused. The impression I get, if I have the correct logical fallacy in mind, is that Kirstin's supporters expect the prosecution to disprove a negative.

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    1. I published it to met you know I put it on the list...its a long list that I'm trying to work through but sometimes I swap around on the days I'm not "feeling" it and try to grab one that grabs me.

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    2. All right, thank you. To clarify the part about the fallacy, and however it's correctly phrased, I think Lobato's supporters want the prosecution to prove this second man doesn't exist. So I guess it's about trying to prove a negative for them. Either way, the case seems complicated. I think she's currently under consideration for a new trial.

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