Elkins man pleads not guilty in shooting death; bond set at $1 million in first-degree murder case

Dominic Heal
Dominic Heal

FAYETTEVILLE — Dominic Heal of Elkins was arraigned on a charge of first-degree murder Friday in Washington County Circuit Court, entering a not guilty plea and receiving a Dec. 28 court date before Judge Mark Lindsay.

Heal, 20, of 1248 N. Willow Oak St. in Elkins, was arrested Oct. 16 in connection with first degree murder, unlawful discharge of a firearm from a vehicle, tampering with physical evidence, theft of property (firearm) and theft of property (motor vehicle).

Heal is being held in the Washington County Detention Center on a $1 million bond.

He was arrested in connection with the Aug. 15 shooting death of Aveyun Smith, 22, of Fayetteville.

Officers responded to a call of a shooting at 920 N. Leverett Ave. on Aug. 15, just before midnight. The officers found a crime scene but no one was there. Callers reported seeing two men, one of whom appeared to be bleeding, leaving the apartment complex, according to a police report. A family member had driven Smith to Washington Regional Medical Center, where he later died.

Police said investigators found 9mm shell casings and a large amount of blood in the parking lot, on the sidewalk and leading up to apartment 817. More blood was later found inside the apartment.

During the investigation, police said witnesses told them a white minivan entered the parking lot and a green “laser” light from the van was placed on Smith just before several gunshots were fired from the van. The witnesses said they had previously seen Heal with a handgun with a green laser light attachment.

Other witnesses told police Heal lent Smith a firearm a few days before the shooting and when Smith failed to return the weapon, Heal became angry.

Video surveillance showed a white minivan in the parking lot leaving immediately after the shooting. An officer with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission reported finding an abandoned white minivan in the area of Bug Scuffle Road and Old Cove City Road on Sept. 23, police said in the report.

The minivan was identified as one reported stolen from Fayetteville on Aug. 23. The interior of the minivan had apparently been set on fire, according to the police report, but the damage was said to be minimal. Damage from a bullet impact was found on the passenger door and a 9mm shell casing and a bullet were recovered. The shell casing was said to be consistent with those found at the scene of the Aug. 15 shooting.

Heal was arrested Oct. 2 in connection with breaking or entering and theft of property. After that arrest, investigators obtained multiple search warrants for Heal’s apartment and found a 9mm pistol with a green laser light attached and ammunition consistent with evidence from the shooting.

Police said in their report Heal admitted to stealing the minivan. He told police he had driven by the apartment and he saw Smith with a pistol and thought Smith fired shots at the minivan. Police said Heal told investigators he then fired several shots toward Smith. Investigators said Heal told them he later set fire to the minivan in an attempt to hide evidence.

First degree murder

In Arkansas, first degree murder is a Class Y felony with a range of punishment of life in prison or a sentence of 10 to 40 years in prison.

Source : Arkansas Code 5-10-102

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