By Ray King

The Arkansas Court of Appeals on Wednesday reversed the 2019 murder conviction of a Hamburg man and sent the case back to prosecutors in Ashley County to decide if there will be another trial.

Erskine Flamer Jr., 25, was convicted of second-degree murder and tampering with physical evidence following the death of Deunte Stanley during an altercation in a Hamburg city park on July 21, 2019. He was sentenced to a total of 50 years in prison and is currently serving his sentence at the Ester Unit.

On appeal, Flamer’s attorney contended that Circuit Judge Robert Bynum Gibson Jr., erred when he denied a motion for a mistrial after prosecutors’, during jury deliberations, disclosed that two pocketknives were found on the victim following his death at a hospital.

Testimony at the trial indicated that Flamer and his son were at the park with Flamer’s girlfriend and the mother of his son when Stanley approached Flamer and started shoving and threatening him. During the shoving, Stanley reached into his pocket and witnesses heard Stanley threaten Flamer. After Stanley shoved Flamer several times, Flamer “poked him” and the witnesses did not realize Stanley had been stabbed until he lifted his shirt and the witnesses saw blood.

The appeals court ruling said the existence of the two pocketknives was not included in any police reports or witness statements. After the existence of the knives was established, Flamer’s attorney moved for a mistrial, but that motion was denied.

Flamer based his defense on self-defense and writing for the appeals court, Judge Raymond Abramson said because the evidence was not disclosed to Flamer until the jury was already deliberating, the error is beyond repair.

“There is a fundamental difference between the killing of an unarmed person and an armed person – regardless of the deadly weapon involved,” Abramson wrote.