A local man was sentenced to four years in prison Tuesday after pleading guilty to attacking a Hot Springs police officer last year, trying to punch him and spitting on him while being arrested.
Joseph Terrell Daniels, 24, who was a parolee at the time and has remained in custody since his arrest on Jan. 11, 2023, pleaded guilty in Garland County Circuit Court to one felony count of aggravated assault on a certified law enforcement officer and was sentenced to six years in prison. He also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of resisting arrest and was sentenced to six months in jail with credit for time served.
A second misdemeanor charge of possession of a controlled substance, marijuana, was withdrawn as part of the plea deal.
According to court records, Daniels is classified as a habitual offender. He was convicted in 2017 in Hot Spring County of theft by receiving and sentenced to five years' probation; in 2018 in Garland County of theft of a firearm and possession of a firearm by certain persons and sentenced to six years in prison with four years suspended; and on July 20, 2020, in Garland County of felony theft of property and sentenced to three years in prison, but later paroled.
According to the probable cause affidavit, on Jan. 11, 2023, shortly after 10:30 a.m., HSPD Officer 1st Class Wes Smith and Officer Alex Tobar responded to a report of a disturbance at a residence in the 1000 block of Illinois Street and a check of the offender in the disturbance, identified as Daniels, showed he had "multiple possible warrants."
As officers attempted to detain Daniels at the scene, he resisted and swung at Tobar before being taken to the ground. In searching him, officers found a bag with 21.1 grams of marijuana and Daniels admitted he didn't have a medical marijuana card.
Tobar was reportedly transporting Daniels to the detention center in his unit and while en route, Daniels began to scream, "I will make you shoot me!" Then he began to spit through the unit's divider, striking the back of Tobar's neck and his ear.
Daniels was held on a zero bond parole hold and pleaded not guilty to the charges on April 4 in circuit court and at one point the case was set for trial on Sept. 25. During a pretrial hearing on Sept. 19, Daniels began "causing a scene" and "cussing" in court and a mental evaluation was ordered at the request of his defense attorney.
On Monday, the evaluation was completed and Daniels was found fit to proceed. At a disposition hearing on Tuesday morning, Daniels initially maintained his not guilty plea and refused offers made by the prosecution. After conferring with his attorney, he was brought back that afternoon and agreed to the plea deal and pleaded guilty.