Accused Child Killer’s Trial Delayed After Public Defender Admits To Drinking Problem
BENTONVILLE (KFSM) – The murder trial for accused child killer Zachary Holly is being rescheduled after the public defender admitted in court on Friday (Oct. 31) that he has an alcohol problem, officials said.
The trial had been set to begin on Monday (Nov. 3) in Benton County Circuit Judge Brad Karren’s courtroom.
However, the defense team sought and received a postponement from Karren at a pre-trial hearing on Friday, saying that Pat Aydelott, the public defender handling the trial portion of the murder case, has a drinking problem, officials said.
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Nathan Smith said he and the victim’s family are “very frustrated” by another delay in the trial. Holly is charged with capital murder in the 2012 killing of six-year-old Jersey Bridgeman in Bentonville.
Smith said his office and the victim’s family were ready to proceed on Monday, adding his office didn’t learn of Aydelott’s issues until Friday afternoon. Smith said the judge didn’t have much choice but to delay the trial after the public defender admitted to being ineffective because of alcoholism.
A court hearing has been scheduled for Nov. 6 for an update on which public defender will replace Aydelott and to learn when a new trial date will be set, Smith said.
The case has gone through several delays and mental status hearings since Holly was arrested in November 2012 on suspicion of capital murder, kidnapping, rape and residential burglary. The suspect was declared fit for trial following two mental evaluations.
Smith has told 5NEWS he will seek the death penalty against Holly in the case.
Jersey Bridgeman lived at 608 S.E. A St. with her mother, who called the police early in the morning of Nov. 20, 2012, to report her daughter was missing. Officers found the child’s body fewer than 15 minutes later in a nearby vacant house at 704 S.E. A St., officials said.
Court documents state that Holly and his wife babysat the child the night of her death while her mother, DesaRae Bridgeman, and Bridgeman’s boyfriend were working at a nearby convenience store.
A swab test on Jersey Bridgeman’s body showed traces of sperm, according to court documents. Holly consented to cheek swabs for DNA comparison and also gave authorities the clothing he had worn since going to bed the night of Jersey Bridgeman’s death, documents state.
DesaRae Bridgeman called police at about 6:45 a.m. to report her daughter missing. Jersey Bridgeman and her younger sister shared a bed, but Jersey was nowhere to be seen, documents state. Police estimated her death to have happened between midnight and 6:45 a.m.
While searching for Jersey Bridgeman, an officer noticed the back door to 704 S.E. A St. was open. The child’s body was found minutes later inside the vacant house, official said.
The girl died of asphyxiation, according to court documents.