"Butt dial" leads to murder conspiracy charge

JONESBORO (KAIT) - A Jonesboro man has been charged with conspiracy to commit murder after police say the intended victim overheard the suspect planning the crime.

Police arrested 68-year-old Larry Barnett last Thursday after being contacted by a Paragould man, according to our ABC station in Jonesboro, KAIT.

The man told Detective Jason Simpkins he received a phone call at 12:30 p.m. from Barnett. He said it appeared Barnett had "unknowingly made" the phone call. The intended victim said he overheard Barnett give another man directions to his home in Paragould.

"Basically, he overheard a conversation between [Barnett] and another unknown male and he was giving out his personal information, his address, where he lives," Sgt. Doug Formon explained.

During the call, which lasted approximately 1.5 hours and was ongoing when he contacted police, the victim said he overheard Barnett say, "I don't care if you have to burn his house to the ground with him in it.{} I don't care what you have to do; make it look like an accident."

The would-be victim is a former employee of Barnett, who owns Legend Motor Company in Jonesboro.

It seems it didn't take long for the hitman to act. Court documents state the target went to the police department to fill out a report after the phone call. When he returned home, police say it had been burglarized and his gas stove had been tampered with.

During an interview with police, Barnett reportedly admitted to mistakenly calling the intended victim as well as discussing his phone number and address to that unidentified man.

"I've been here now for 25 years and I've never recalled a time when a subject has accidentally, if you will, 'butt-dialed' someone they're either trying to commit a crime against or the possible victim of the crime," Formon said.

Barnett's temporary bond was set at $1 million, however in court Monday, it was lowered to $50,000. That, however, could change in the coming days.

Jonesboro Police say Barnett was falsifying documents for his bank. As Barnett owns Legend Motor Company, police say he would forge VIN numbers for vehicles that didn't exist, so he could receive loans. Police say that amounted to over $100,000 he stole from his bank.

Click here for more on this story from our ABC station in Jonesboro, KAIT.