D.A. Hunt releases statement on Clark case

Published 3:01 pm Monday, August 2, 2010

Editor’s note: District Attorney Jeff Hunt released the following statement Thursday, July 30, after Ida Hays Clark pled guilty in Polk County Superior Court to conspiracy to commit voluntary manslaughter, solicitation to commit voluntary manslaughter, felony breaking and entering, felony larceny and felony possession of a stolen motor vehicle.

A North Carolinas prosecutors case appropriately can rise only as high as the admissible, probative evidence will allow, pursuant to North Carolina law.

In the cases surrounding the murder of Jay Clark we found through the investigation that we could not prove the premeditation required for 1st degree murder.&bsp; The result was that the defendant Trent Miller pled guilty to 2nd degree murder at an earlier term of Polk County Superior Court and was sentenced by the judge under the sentencing laws enacted by our legislature.

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North Carolina prosecutors are required by our laws to disclose to the defense before trial our entire investigatory file as it comes into our possession from the investigating law enforcement officers.

This case extended due to unusual circumstances not in our control, across three sheriffs administrations. This did affect the investigation, somewhat, as there was a turnover of investigatory officers.

The people in Polk County, and prosecutorial district 29B, can be assured that the pleas in Ida Clarks case are to the appropriate crimes which we can prove based on our evidence. Our evidence showed that she was an accessory, not the actual principal actor in this homicide.

We have no comment on the question of the possibility that parts of the investigatory file in the hands of law enforcement before being delivered to my office, may have accidentally&bsp; been compromised as early as 2007. Except, to report that our subsequent investigation of those circumstances indicated that the actions were apparently not done with criminal intent or in attempt to obstruct justice, in this case.&bsp; Instead it appears the acts were done without understanding the negative affect that would result to the states case against defendant Ida Clark.

Finally, in this plea negotiation my office did not agree to any particular punishment. We left it entirely up to the judge after hearing arguments from both sides.

Today in Superior Court Ida Hayes Clark pled guilty to 1) conspiracy to commit voluntary manslaughter, 2) solicitation to commit voluntary manslaughter, 3) felony breaking and entering, 4) felony larceny, and 5) felony possession of a stolen motor vehicle. The Honorable Phillip Ginn sentenced her to 4-6 months on the felony larceny with credit for time served, 6-8 months on the felony breaking and entering, 6-8 months on the felony possession of a stolen motor vehicle, 16-20 months on the solicitation to commit voluntary manslaughter, and 25-39 months on the conspiracy to commit voluntary manslaughter. All charges were ordered to be consecutive, the sentence was suspended and the defendant was placed on intensive probation for 6 months, regular probation for 42 months and ordered to live at Lydias House for one year, which is a transitional house in Rutherford County. The defendant was also ordered not to possess or consume alcohol, pay a $500 fine plus court costs and a community service fee and to be subject to drug and search clauses by probation. The defendant was also ordered to obtain employment within 60 days and work a minimum of 30 hours a week or do 30 hours of community service and pay the community service fee. Probation was transferred to Rutherford County and defendant was not to have contact with family members.