Jury sentences man to 30 years in prison for attacking jailer

Marcus Alexander Calhoun - Submitted photo
Marcus Alexander Calhoun - Submitted photo

A local man sentenced to six years in prison last year for felony fleeing after he mistook a Garland County sheriff's patrol unit for a spaceship was sentenced to 30 years in prison Tuesday for attacking a deputy at the detention center.

Marcus Alexander Calhoun, 27, pleaded guilty Monday in Garland County Circuit Court to second-degree battery of a law enforcement officer and impairing the operation of a vital public facility and after one day of testimony a jury recommended a sentence of 15 years on each count, to run consecutively, for a total of 30 years.

Deputy Prosecutor Brock Price, who represented the state along with Deputy Prosecutor Eric Wacaster, told The Sentinel-Record Tuesday night the jury deliberated about 30 minutes before returning the sentences and it was their recommendation they be run consecutively.

"Thankfully, the deputy only suffered relatively minor injuries," Price said. "Luckily for him, when the other inmates saw what was going on, several of them intervened and pulled Calhoun off him."

Calhoun had attacked the deputy, taking his pepper spray, and then used it on him, he said.

"I think the verdict was a result of several different factors," Price said. "One being the risk Calhoun created to the deputy by rendering him defenseless in a pod of 60 inmates. Had they not done the right thing this could have been much worse than it was."

He also attributed the verdict to Calhoun's lengthy criminal record and his "laundry list of disciplinary actions while in jail," noting Calhoun "has been a perennial problem since 2014 and I think the jury decided enough was enough."

According to the affidavit on the charges, on April 9, 2022, while working his regularly scheduled shift at the Garland County Detention Center, Deputy Ethan Miller had placed an inmate, identified as Calhoun, on disciplinary confinement for "lewd behavior" shortly after 11:30 a.m.

Shortly after 1 p.m., Miller opened Calhoun's cell door to give Calhoun a roll of toilet paper. At that point, Calhoun attacked him, striking him repeatedly. Calhoun then took a can of OC spray away from Miller, struck him with the can and then sprayed him with the chemical agent.

Multiple other inmates within the barracks broke up the altercation and physically restrained Calhoun until he could be placed back in his cell and the door closed. Miller reportedly suffered bruising to his face and scrapes to his right arm during the altercation.

Calhoun was initially charged on April 11 with second-degree battery and possession of a weapon by an incarcerated person, but the latter charge was later amended to impairing a public facility.

It was also amended to reflect Calhoun's status as a habitual offender having been convicted on Oct. 5, 2020, of two counts of impairing the operation of a vital public facility and one count of first-degree criminal mischief, where he was sentenced to six years' probation.

It also noted his guilty plea on May 2, 2022, to felony fleeing where he was sentenced to six years in prison and a misdemeanor count of driving while intoxicated, drugs, where he was sentenced to one year in jail.

According to the affidavit on the previous fleeing charge, on Dec. 1, 2021, shortly before midnight, Sheriff's Cpl. Matthew Cogburn attempted to make a traffic stop on a speeding passenger car on Albert Pike which refused to stop.

The pursuit, which reached speeds up to 85 mph, continued until the driver, identified as Calhoun, finally stopped at the entrance to the detention center, 3564 Albert Pike, where he indicated he fled because he thought Cogburn's patrol unit was "a spaceship" chasing him. He also admitted to being high on meth at that time.

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