Kennedy released on bond: Candidate faces multiple felony charges

Thursday, May 5, 2022
Robert Kennedy

Robert Kennedy, the candidate for Carroll County sheriff who was arrested last week on multiple felony charges, was released from jail Sunday night after posting bond.

Kennedy was released from the Carroll County Detention Center in Berryville around 8 p.m. Sunday. Carroll County District Judge Dale Ramsey had set Kennedy’s bond at $100,000 after his initial judicial appearance on Wednesday, April 27.

Ramsey also ordered that Kennedy could be released without posting bond if he agreed to a voluntary commitment directly to an inpatient hospital on a locked unit.

A source confirmed Monday afternoon that Kennedy had been checked into a hospital in Conway.

Kennedy, 38, faces felony charges of terroristic threatening, residential burglary and second-degree battery as well as two misdemeanor counts of third-degree assault on a family or household member. A resident of Holiday Island, he is scheduled to appear in Carroll County Circuit Court at 9 a.m. Monday, May 23, in Berryville.

Kennedy was arrested on the morning of Monday, April 25, at his mother’s home on Carroll County Road 107 west of Eureka Springs.

Carroll County Sheriff’s Office deputy Austin Kennedy — Robert Kennedy’s brother — writes in a report that he was off-duty recovering from shoulder surgery when he received a phone call from patrol lieutenant Jeff Heinzl. Austin Kennedy writes that Heinzl told him Robert Kennedy had made threats toward Sheriff Jim Ross and his wife. Ross then got on the phone and advised Austin Kennedy that the situation was “not good,” Austin Kennedy writes.

Immediately after his conversation with Ross ended, Austin Kennedy writes, his mother called, upset and crying. She told Austin Kennedy that she saw a video Robert Kennedy had posted to social media that morning and that she was afraid for Robert’s safety because of his state of mind.

While he was on the phone with his mother, Austin Kennedy writes, she said in a startled voice: “He is here. Oh my God. He is here.”

His mother then put the call on speaker phone, Austin Kennedy writes, and he heard the screen door open and close and then heard Robert say that the state police had just called him and were on their way to arrest Ross and bring the sheriff’s badge to Robert.

“It was very apparent to me that Robert was in a frantic state,” Austin Kennedy writes.

Robert Kennedy’s mother and sister were trying to calm him down, Austin Kennedy writes, but he started started cursing and screaming at them.

“I then heard both my mother and sister crying, pleading for Robert to calm down,” Austin Kennedy writes.

Robert Kennedy then began screaming at his mother to bring him her AR-15 rifle, Austin Kennedy writes, but she refused.

Austin Kennedy began driving toward his mother’s house, located approximately a mile from his own home, he writes. He then contacted his mother’s boyfriend and asked him to come to his mother’s home, as well. Austin Kennedy also retrieved his department-issued taser, pepper spray and handcuffs.

When he entered the home, Austin Kennedy writes, Robert was sitting on a couch still yelling at his mother and sister to give him the rifle. Describing his brother as being in a “manic and delusional” state, Austin Kennedy writes that he attempted multiple times to de-escalate the situation, with no success. When Robert Kennedy shifted his position on the couch, Austin Kennedy writes, he could see a handgun in a holster strapped to Robert’s right thigh.

As Austin Kennedy advised his brother that everything would be OK and no one was going to shoot him, he writes, Robert Kennedy replied, “I’m not going to shoot y’all,” while reaching for the gun. Robert Kennedy then handed the gun to Austin Kennedy, who gave it to his mother. She then placed the gun on the kitchen counter, Austin Kennedy writes.

Austin Kennedy writes that Robert Kennedy was making erratic hand movements and odd vocal sounds and sweating profusely while saying “the cops are coming.” Robert Kennedy made a statement that the police had already shot at him and he needed the AR-15 for protection.

Austin Kennedy once again assured Robert Kennedy that he was safe, he writes, and told him that he thought stress and a lack of sleep might be causing these issues.

“This enraged Robert,” Austin Kennedy writes, saying his brother stood up and started walking toward Austin Kennedy and the kitchen area with his fists clenched.

“I put my only good arm up and told Robert to stop and sit down,” Austin Kennedy writes.

Instead, Robert Kennedy continued toward Austin Kennedy as Austin backed up toward the kitchen, Austin writes. Austin Kennedy raised his good arm and again told Robert Kennedy to stop, but Robert ignored the command, Austin writes.

Fearing for everyone’s safety, Austin Kennedy writes, he gave a single two-second spray of pepper spray across Robert Kennedy’s brow above his eyes, but it seemed to have little effect. Austin Kennedy then fired his taser, with both probes striking Robert Kennedy in the lower left back area, he writes.

The taser strike stopped Robert Kennedy’s forward motion and brought him to the ground, Austin Kennedy’s report says. His mother’s boyfriend then laid across Robert Kennedy and secured his arms while Austin Kennedy placed Robert in handcuffs. Robert Kennedy was then helped to his feet and seated on another couch while Austin Kennedy began to start decontaminating the pepper spray. Austin Kennedy then ran to his truck and used his cell phone to call county dispatch and request additional deputies and medical services.

Austin Kennedy then moved his brother to the kitchen sink to help further wash the pepper spray from his eyes and removed the taser probes from his back, Austin Kennedy writes. He took the firearm to his truck, unloaded it and secured it in the truck.

Austin Kennedy turned custody of Robert Kennedy over to CCSO deputy Corey Hall and then was instructed to seek medical attention.

The final paragraph of Austin Kennedy’s report is written in all caps: “IT SHOULD BE NOTED, I AM DEATHLY AFRAID OF WHAT ROBERT WILL DO IN HIS CURRENT MENTAL STATE, NOT ONLY TO MY FAMILY OR HIMSELF, BUT THE GENERAL PUBLIC AS WELL. I STRONGLY FEEL THAT ROBERT NEEDS A MENTAL EVALUATION AND TREATMENT. HE HAS NEVER EXHIBITED VIOLENT/MENTAL BEHAVIOR ON THIS LEVEL AND TO THIS DEGREE IN HIS WHOLE LIFE.”

CCSO Cpl. Aaron Ingle writes in a separate report that Eureka Springs EMS personnel tended to Robert Kennedy.

“While Robert was in the process of decontamination, he was not violent towards any of us but was very angry and verbally abusive towards all of us, saying that it was all of our faults, and he was going to sue us, and he just wanted his family to trust him,” Ingle writes.

After Robert Kennedy’s wife walked into the kitchen, Ingle writes, he started speaking to her and appeared to be getting “agitated.” Ingle then placed Robert Kennedy in a patrol car and ultimately drove him to the detention center in Berryville.

Ingle writes that Robert Kennedy’s demeanor “constantly changed” while en route to the detention center.

“Robert would go from asking me for help and to take him to the Arkansas State Police Headquarters to immediately turning around stating that he was going to ruin my life and sue me and take everything I had,” Ingle writes. “Robert continued this the entire way to the Detention Center, going from angry, to crying, to being apologetic, and back to threatening to sue me and my family. I continued telling Robert that I understand he is upset but I don’t take any (offense) to his threats.”

After speaking with Hall, Ingle writes, and they were advised to charge Robert Kennedy with terroristic threatening for making threats toward the sheriff’s office and police, with residential burglary for entering his mother’s home, with second-degree battery for knowingly causing injury to a known law enforcement officer and with two counts of assault on a family or household member for creating a fear of imminent physical danger to his mother and sister.

Ingle writes that Hall told him Austin Kennedy believed his injured shoulder may have been further damage in the incident and had gone to the hospital to be examined.

Robert Kennedy, who worked as a detention officer at the county jail for approximately three months in 2018 before being fired, will remain on the Republican ballot for the preferential primary election. Early voting begins May 9, with election day May 24 — the day after Kennedy is scheduled to make his next court appearance.

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  • Robert's brother wrote the following and the powers that be somehow think they should 1. release him (is he being monitored?) and 2. keep him on the GOP ballot? There is something seriously wrong here, not to mention that some people are in danger. Robert is mentally ill. The final paragraph of Austin Kennedy’s report is written in all caps: “IT SHOULD BE NOTED, I AM DEATHLY AFRAID OF WHAT ROBERT WILL DO IN HIS CURRENT MENTAL STATE, NOT ONLY TO MY FAMILY OR HIMSELF, BUT THE GENERAL PUBLIC AS WELL. I STRONGLY FEEL THAT ROBERT NEEDS A MENTAL EVALUATION AND TREATMENT. HE HAS NEVER EXHIBITED VIOLENT/MENTAL BEHAVIOR ON THIS LEVEL AND TO THIS DEGREE IN HIS WHOLE LIFE.”

    -- Posted by jpmorganfreeman on Thu, May 5, 2022, at 1:31 PM
  • Please note, a source confirmed Monday afternoon that Robert Kennedy had been checked into a hospital in Conway. Nothing else is known at this point.

    -- Posted by jpmorganfreeman on Thu, May 5, 2022, at 1:40 PM
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