LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Judge Wade Naramore, 36, arrived a half hour before his plea hearing was scheduled to begin at the Garland County courthouse. He took the stairs in silence as he made his way to the courtroom.
Supporter like Rector CB Baker of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Hot Springs filled half the courtroom inside as the judge waited to enter his plea.
“I’m very sad about the way much of the public has responded to this surprised and sad, yes,” Baker said when asked if he was surprised by the public’s reaction to the case. He added that he was not shocked, however, that Naramore was charged.
“It’s the justice system. I guess it’s the law, I don’t know the law, but I suppose that’s the way it was supposed to be,” he said.
The hearing lasted mere minutes. Naramore’s attorney entered a not guilty plea on the judge’s behalf, and his jury trial is scheduled for June 14-17. Naramore’s attorney Patrick Benca told Special Judge John Langston that he anticipated the trial to last three to four days.
“He has that time set aside, so we’ll take as much time as we need,” said special prosecutor Scott Ellington. “Probably picking a jury will take a long time.”
According to Ellington, defense attorneys had given him no indication that they intended to seek a change of venue for the trial.
As Naramore left the courtroom, those identifying themselves as family members linked arms to form a chain in front of the press, at times forcibly pushing reporters back as they attempted to ask questions of the elected judge. Naramore himself had nothing to say, failing to acknowledge reporter’s questions.
According to an arrest affidavit, Naramore claimed he forgot to drop the toddler off at daycare. He told police he went to work to hear cases in juvenile court, left work early and ran some errands before returning home. When he left his house around 3 p.m. to go pick up Thomas from daycare, he told police he heard a sound in the backseat that alerted him Thomas was still in the vehicle.
“I trust that justice will be done and he’ll be found not guilty,” said CB Baker, saying the event was a tragedy that Naramore will have to live with for the rest of is life.
Like Baker, Naramore’s attorneys have said in written statements that this was a tragic accident but not a crime. Ultimately, it will be up to a jury to decide. KARK did request that our cameras be allowed in the courtroom to document this and future hearings in the Naramore case. Our request was denied by Judge Langston.
The Arkansas Supreme Court suspended Naramore with pay until the case is concluded. He has not sat on the bench to hear any cases since the incident occurred in July.