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Quintana pleads guilty to amended charges

BY GARY EXELBY gexelby@paragoulddailypress.com

Charles Quintana has taken a plea deal.

The 59-year-old Quintana faced charges of one count each of capital murder, kidnapping, aggravated robbery and first-degree battery in the death of estranged wife Stacy Quintana on Dec. 23, 2015. He could have received the death penalty.

Instead, prosecutors amended the charges to one count of first-degree murder and robbery, and dropped the kidnapping, first-degree battery and aggravated robbery charges. "As part of the plea deal," said deputy prosecuting attorney Robert F. Thompson III after the sentencing, "we took the death penalty off the table."

So Quintana, represented by attorneys Danny Glover and Joe Perry, pleaded guilty to the amended charges to Judge Brent Davis on Thursday morning.

After hearing from Stacy Quintana's cousin Dara Williams, speaking on behalf of Stacy's family, Davis sentenced Charles Quintana to 480 months in the Arkansas Department of Corrections (ADC) on the murder charge and another 120 months in the ADC on the robbery charge.

"Stacy and I used to talk about what we'd do if someone hurt our kids," Williams said. "And we agreed that we'd throw them into the Mississippi River."

Addressing Quintana directly, Williams said he was going to a place where he could never hurt anyone again. "You took our sunshine," she said. "I hope you never have any joy again. And may God have mercy on your soul."

The sentences are to run consecutively. The murder charge carries a requirement that Quintana serve at least 70 percent of the sentence before being eligible for parole, while the robbery charge carries a 25 percent requirement.

Thompson noted that all together, Quintana, who turns 60 on May 1, would have to serve 366 months - 30-1/2 years - less 476 days credit for time served, before becoming eligible for parole. He will be 90 by that time.

Before passing sentence, Davis questioned Quintana on whether he understood the amended charges and whether he was satisfied with the advice of his attorneys. Quintana said he was.

Davis then asked Thompson to state what evidence the state of Arkansas would present in making the argument for conviction on the murder charge. Thompson said the state would prove Stacy Keplinger (now serving 80 years in the ADC on a guilty plea) went to the Lorado Store, forced Stacy Quintana and Aaron Jenkins into a car at gun point, then shot Quintana dead and tried to cut Jenkins' throat. "The state will prove Charles Quintana helped plan the robbery," he said, "that he supplied the gun to Stacy Keplinger, knowing she was going to use it to rob and kill."

Davis then asked Quintana's attorneys if what Thompson said reflected their understanding of the argument, and both said yes.

Reaction to the sentence among Stacy Quintana's family and friends was mixed. "I'm satisfied," Williams said. Her daughter, Rebecca Williams, was not. "I believe in an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth," she said grimly.

Family friend Chris Mullins was likewise not satisfied. "I thought he should have gotten life without parole," he said.

Before the deal was announced, Stacy Quintana's mother, Pat Brown, had expressed the hope that the case would go to trial. "We need to hear his side of the story," she had said.

However, after the deal was announced, Brown said she was satisfied. "Of course, a mother is never satisfied," she acknowledged, "but it's better than what could have happened."

In addition to Quintana and Keplinger, the other two defendants in the murder case took pleas. Darrell Swan pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced to 360 months in the ADC.

Tracy Stone also pleaded guilty to hindering apprehension. She was sentenced to 60 months in the ADC.