Attempted murder by Ward is No. 9 story of year
The case of Walter Jason Ward was selected by the Lovely County Citizen as the No. 9 story of the year. In March, Ward attacked two Eureka Springs women with a knife and a gas-powered BB gun inside their home.
In October, Ward, 39, of Eureka Springs, was tried and convicted of one count of first-degree attempted murder, which is a Class A felony; one count of first-degree battery, which is a Class B felony; and one count of Breaking or Entering, which is a Class D felony.
At his trial, Ward was sentenced to 300 months at the Arkansas Department of Corrections, with 120 months suspended sentence.
On March 28, police received a report that a male subject was assaulting two females at an address on Forest Lane just outside the Eureka Springs city limits.
Ward entered the residence of Judy Clarke, and attacked her and her daughter, Kelly Clarke. Each of the women received multiple stab wounds and Judy was shot four times with a pellet gun.
Ward was an acquaintance of the victims.
According to Eureka Springs Police Chief Earl Hyatt, when officers arrived, a man was in the process of hitting or stabbing one of the women. The man, identified as Ward, fled on foot into the woods and officers stayed with the women, who were both injured.
County deputies, Eureka Springs police and an Arkansas Game & Fish officer all searched for Ward in a wooded area in the Lake Lucerne/Greenwood Hollow area. He was caught and arrested at the old Kimes Auto Parts on Greenwood Hollow Road shortly after dawn on March 28.
Judy Clarke and her husband had active protection orders against Ward at the time of the assaults. The protection orders stemmed from a previous incident in January where he was charged with residential burglary, theft of property and criminal mischief at Clarke's home.
When the attacks in March took place, Ward was out on bail after being arrested and charged in the January incident.
In May, Ward was ordered to have mental examination before the trial took place. It was determined that at the time of his of the alleged crimes, he did not have a mental disease or mental defect, according to the court documents.
Ward's January charge for residential burglary was reduced to breaking or entering at his trial in October. The theft of property and criminal mischief offenses were nolle pros, which means no charges were brought against him.