Local man convicted for role in 2022 armed robbery, gets 10 years

Calvin K. Ward (Submitted photo)
Calvin K. Ward (Submitted photo)

The first of four adult suspects charged in connection with the armed robbery of a local teen in 2022 was convicted Wednesday after a two-day trial in Garland County Circuit Court and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Calvin Kelowel Armond Ward, 22, was found guilty of a felony count of aggravated robbery and sentenced to 10 years in prison, and a misdemeanor count of theft of property under $1,000 and was sentenced to the maximum of one year in jail, to run concurrently with the prison sentence.

Deputy Prosecutor Caitlin Bornhoft said Thursday that Ward will have to serve 70%, or seven years, of his prison sentence before he is eligible for parole under sentencing guidelines. She noted Ward, who listed no prior criminal history, was 20 at the time of the incident on Nov. 29, 2022.

Three other adults arrested at the same time, Quinton Cortez Bland, 22, and Nicholas Allen Bland, 18, both of Hot Springs, and Kyla Arise Betts, 19, of Kansas City, Mo., face the same charges with their cases still pending in circuit court, Bornhoft said, while two juveniles also arrested "were adjudicated as juveniles of aggravated robbery" in juvenile court.

The Sentinel-Record follows The Associated Press privacy policies and does not publish the names of juvenile offenders unless they are charged as adults.

Bornhoft stressed the two juveniles "were extremely involved from the planning down to the execution," of the robbery, but it was "kind of a complex scenario with minors and adults all mixed up in it."

Based on the nature of the crime, "primarily being that no one was actually injured in any way" and "no shots were fired," she said if they had charged them as adults it likely would have been remanded back to juvenile court anyway.

"Because the factors for adult court have to be pretty overwhelming," she said, involving injury or "major loss of some kind." She also noted the fact the two juveniles didn't act alone, but rather with adults helping them and providing the firearms would also have been a big factor in the decision and a valid reason to remand it back.

Bornhoft said after Ward was arrested, he had given a "pretty detailed" recorded statement to Garland County sheriff's Investigator Kenny Ford in which he admitted to his involvement in the robbery and explained how it came about. In July 2023, while still in custody, he gave investigators a new statement basically recanting everything he had said originally.

She said Ward testified at his trial Wednesday and "more or less stuck to the second statement, denying everything," but jurors were able to listen to his original recorded statement and obviously were convinced of his actual involvement.

According to the probable cause affidavit, on Nov. 29, 2022, around 12:15 a.m., the Garland County Sheriff's Office got a call from a woman about an armed robbery that had just occurred at her residence on Hershell Road.

The woman said her son, 17, was outside the residence when somebody "took his stuff" and guns were involved. She also noted the suspects involved were leaving at that time in a white vehicle.

Sheriff's deputies responding to the call spotted a white car traveling east on Airport Road at a high rate of speed and Deputy Michael Wagner activated his lights and siren to make a traffic stop, but the vehicle sped away and a pursuit ensued which ended in the parking lot of Walmart, 1601 Albert Pike Road.

Six people were removed from the vehicle, a white 2002 Honda Civic, and an AR-15 style rifle was reportedly seen in plain view inside the car. The persons in the vehicle were identified as Betts, the driver, and passengers, Ward, Quinton Bland, Nicholas Bland and two juveniles, ages not listed.

Investigators spoke with the victim, who stated a female juvenile had texted him earlier in the evening "wanting to hang out." The girl arrived at his residence and the two of them were sitting in a vehicle parked in the driveway.

At one point, the victim heard a knock on the car window and looked out to see a masked person holding a gun directing him to get out of the car. He noted there were "multiple subjects all with guns" standing outside.

He noted one of the subjects was holding an AR-15 rifle and the others were all holding handguns.

The victim stated he was able to make it inside his residence and shut the door before the subjects could gain entry to his house. He noted the female he had been with earlier left with the armed subjects. He also identified Nicholas Bland, noting he didn't see his face, but thought he recognized his voice.

The affidavit notes the residence on Hershell Road had surveillance cameras and investigators were able to obtain video of the incident that showed four of the subjects on the porch of the residence during the incident.

Ward pleaded not guilty to the charges on Dec. 7, 2022, in circuit court and was released on $125,000 bond on May 10, 2023. He was set for a disposition hearing on June 6, 2023, but failed to appear so a warrant was issued. He was arrested on June 28 and has remained in custody since then. The case was continued several times and then set for trial Tuesday.

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