BENTON COUNTY (KFSM) – Prosecutors will seek the death penalty against the Bentonville man accused of killing his grandmother and leading authorities on a week-long manhunt last summer, Benton County prosecutor Nathan Smith said in a pretrial hearing Monday morning.
Michael Conklin, 26, appeared in Benton County Circuit Court for a hearing ahead of his unscheduled trial. The prosecutor announced his intentions at the hearing to seek the death penalty against the suspect. Conklin has a mental evaluation scheduled for Jan. 15 at the Arkansas State Hospital in Little Rock to determine whether he is competent to stand trial.
Conklin’s next pretrial hearing is scheduled for March 30.
Conklin was arrested in July on suspicion of capital murder and theft of property after police said he stabbed his 76-year-old grandmother, Nelma Darline Conklin, to death. He remains in the Benton County Jail without bond, according to the Benton County Sheriff’s Office.
Police found Darline Conklin’s body after responding to the Conklins’ Bentonville home to check on her. Michael Conklin, her grandson, was missing, along with the woman’s silver Ford Focus, police said. Authorities later issued an arrest warrant for Conklin, and he was found in Saline County with his grandmother’s car following a week-long manhunt, according to Bentonville police.
Police said they were originally called out to the residence, located at 3300 SW Elm Manor Ave., to check on Darline Conklin, who hadn’t shown up to her job in one week.
Conklin was denied bond shortly after being booked into the Benton County Jail following his capture. He pleaded not guilty to capital murder and theft of property at an arraignment in August, court records show. Benton County Circuit Court Judge Robin Greene later granted Conklin’s request in October for a mental evaluation.