Woman who failed to show for second day of trial arrested, faces 40-year term

Stephanie Ann Knox (Submitted photo)

A local woman convicted "in absentia" last month on felony drug charges after she failed to show for the second day of her trial was arrested Sunday night on felony failure to appear charges and now faces sentencing to 40 years.

Stephanie Ann Knox, 30, who is classified as a habitual offender, with multiple prior felony convictions, was absent on Oct. 24 when a Garland County Circuit Court jury found her guilty of possession of a controlled substance, cocaine, and possession of drug paraphernalia, and recommended a sentence of 40 years in prison.

A failure to appear warrant was issued for her arrest that same day and she was reportedly taken into custody Sunday night and booked into the Garland County Detention Center shortly before 11 p.m.

Deputy Prosecutor Caitlin Bornhoft told The Sentinel-Record at the time Knox could not be formally sentenced until she was present so the warrant was issued and "now we're just waiting for her to be picked up."

Bornhoft confirmed Monday Knox was in custody and said, "She will have to be sentenced by Judge (Kara) Petro so I'll be asking that she get put on our next docket for that to be done."

Bornhoft admitted she was surprised Knox was still in Hot Springs, noting, "I was pretty convinced she had left the state altogether, let alone Garland County."

Knox's conviction stemmed from her arrest by Hot Springs police during a traffic stop on April 4, 2022. The trial began on Oct. 23, with Knox present, and was set to resume the next day but Knox, who had been free on a $25,000 bond, failed to show even after the attorneys waited for over an hour.

Bornhoft noted they decided to continue without Knox because attempting to retry the case later would have brought "double jeopardy" restrictions into play.

The jurors, who were not given any explanation for Knox's absence, deliberated for about 90 minutes before finding Knox guilty and less than an hour before recommending a sentence of 30 years on the cocaine possession and 10 years on the paraphernalia, to run consecutively for a total of 40 years in prison.

During the sentencing phase, the state was able to present Knox's priors and her status as a habitual offender.

Knox was convicted on a felony drug charge in 2013 and sentenced to four years' probation; in 2014 of possession of cocaine with purpose to deliver and sentenced to six years in prison; on Aug. 7, 2017, of possession of a firearm by certain persons and sentenced to five years in prison; and on Oct. 14, 2020, of possession of a firearm by certain persons and aggravated assault and sentenced to six years in prison, but was paroled each time.