A Bella Vista man is behind bars after deputies say he threatened to kill a Benton County judge.
Ricky Lee Witcher, 54, was arrested Jan. 10 on suspicion of first-degree terroristic threatening and a warrant on third-degree domestic battery, according to the Benton County Sheriff’s Office. Witcher remained Wednesday in the Benton County Jail on $253,500 bond, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Witcher’s arraignment in the case is scheduled for Feb. 18.
A process server was serving court papers to Witcher on Friday, when the suspect became angry and started pacing around outside his place of work at Kozy Heat in Bella Vista, according to a probable cause report filed in Benton County Circuit Court.
The process server was serving the court order from Circuit Judge John Scott. Witcher then started insulting Scott before saying he would like to “put a bullet in his (expletive) head and kill the (expletive),” according to the probable cause affidavit.
Witcher then told the process server he would not go back to Scott’s courtroom and that Scott and two others in Benton County “needed to be killed,” the affidavit states. The two others are identified in the affidavit as Greg Clark and Seth Becket. Clark is a criminal lawyer in Benton County. Seth Bickett, spelled differently than “Becket”, is an attorney in Bentonville, according to public directories.
Deputy Keshia Guyll with the Benton County Sheriff's Office said Witcher's words showed intent of following through with his threats of killing the judge and others.
"This was very direct, and it was very directed at particular people," Guyll said. "He explained how he was going to do it and what he wanted to do."
The suspect was later located and arrested by Benton County Sheriff’s deputies, according to the affidavit.
The judge told 5NEWS he has handled Witcher's divorce and custody cases in his courtroom.
"I felt like it was an emotional reaction to my orders," Scott said, adding that security consultants have advised him on how to protect himself. "There's things we do, that my family does and my office staff does to improve our safety. We listen to experts and take their advice."