Randall Lavan Jordan was sentenced to life in an Arkansas prison this week by a Crawford County judge for the 2016 beating death of a Van Buren man.
Jordan, 36, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder Monday for the June 10, 2016, beating death of Larry E. Jones, 59. Jordan faced the death penalty and was scheduled for a jury trial Tuesday with Crawford County Circuit Judge Mike Medlock. A mental evaluation in March deemed Jordan fit for trial.
Jordan, an out-of-work sheet metal fabricator from Van Buren, had stayed at Jones’ home at the intersection of Grand Juniper and Oak Meadow roads in Van Buren for a couple weeks prior to the murder. Jordan was accused of beating Jones over the head with an ax handle, causing blunt trauma that led to his death, according to Crawford County Prosecutor Marc McCune.
The Arkansas State Crime Laboratory listed the cause of death as “craniocerebral injuries.” Police say Jones was hit in the head while he slept.
According to notes in a mental examination of Jordan, a witness named Melissa Qualls ran to get help and Riley Jones, the victim’s son, held Jordan at gunpoint at his father’s residence until a neighbor relieved him. The son took his father to the hospital before police arrived to arrest Jordan.
A mental examination taken in March at the Arkansas State Hospital concluded that Jordan had an “opioid use disorder, in sustained remission” but did not have a mental defect. Jordan “had the capacity to understand the proceedings against him and the capacity to assist effectively in his own defense,” the mental examination summary states.
Jordan told the mental examiner, Michael Simon, that he had been addicted to pain pills in his early 20s for pain and neck problems that resulted from a motorcycle accident when he was 17. At one point he was taking as many as 20 to 25 OxyContin pills, about four times what he was prescribed, Simon wrote. Jordan was buying pills on the street to supplement his prescription, but he stopped using all drugs four or five months before his arrest for murder, he told the forensic psychologist.
Jordan graduated from Van Buren High School and was employed for more than nine years with Cockrum Welding & Fabrication in Van Buren. He left the job with Cockrum Welding a few years ago, he said in the examination, “for financial reasons and has worked for several different employers doing the same type of work.”
When he was 23, Jordan was arrested for DWI. The report notes that Jordan has three daughters.