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Murder suspect scheduled to appear in court Thursday

September 2, 2014

Abel Enriquez

Abel Enriquez, who has been charged with first-degree murder, is scheduled for a bond hearing Thursday.

Enriquez, 65, of Sardis was arrested in June in connection with the death of his 22-year-old neighbor, Anthony Ballentine. Shortly after his arrest, his bond was set at $500,000.

He remains in custody at the Saline County Detention Center.

In August his attorney filed a motion requesting a reduction in bond.

"There is a material change in circumstance that would justify another bond hearing in this matter," wrote Bobby Digby of Little Rock, who is serving as Enriquez's legal counsel.

During his first bond hearing, Detective Cpl. Gary Robertson testified about the case.

When deputies first received the call to respond, they believed a car accident had occurred near the residence since Enriquez called 911 to report a "crash" at his residence, Robertson said.

When deputies arrived at the scene, they found the victim's body lying on the kitchen floor.

According to police, Ballentine had been shot twice — once in the head and once in the groin.

Nearby residents reported hearing gunshots around 11:30 p.m. or midnight, but Enriquez did not call 911 to report the incident until around 5 a.m.

During the time he was on the phone with a dispatcher, Enriquez's story changed three times, Robertson said.

A .22 caliber handgun and ammunition consistent with the victim's injuries were recovered at the scene, the deputy noted.

During a court hearing, Digby said Enriquez was intoxicated when deputies arrived at the residence. He also noted that Enriquez and the victim had been friends.

According to a preliminary report from the medical examiner's office, the gunshot wounds could not have been self-inflicted, Robertson said.

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