CONWAY (KATV) - A Faulkner County jury found Richard Conte guilty Friday of both counts of capital murder he faced.
Prosecutors said that Conte killed 48-year-old Carter Elliot in May 2002 because they shared an ex-wife. They said he also killed 25-year-old Timmy Wayne Robertson because he was at Elliot's house helping to build a fence when he showed up.
The jurors took only one hour to reach their decision. Prosecutors relied heavily on circumstantial evidence and two inmates who came forward to testify that Conte confessed while he was in jail. Rusty Glover and Charles Reeves testified that, while in the medical unit at the Faulkner County Jail, they asked if he did it and Conte replied, "Hell yeah I did it, but they don't have any evidence."
Glover went onto testify how Conte said Conway police were searching the wrong car for forensic evidence shortly after the crime. Conte also said police will "never find the murder weapon," according to Glover's testimony.
Prosecutors portrayed Conte as a trained killer with experience as a mercenary in Afghanistan. Conte claimed he couldn't have committed the crime because he was in Utah but prosecutors said he actually drove to Arkansas and back on the day of the murders and presented internet records that showed Conte had searched for maps to Conway.
Both victims had family in the courtroom who immediately started crying after the verdict was read. It was a day they had been waiting for 10 years to see and had begun to think would never come.
"I am so relieved he is in jail where he belongs and has always belonged," said Elliot's daughter, Ashley Waldron. "I will sleep well and I'm at peace."
Conte was not charged until 2011 because he was serving a nine year sentence for kidnapping his ex-wife, Lark Schwartz, in Nevada. Schwartz was Elliot's first wife.
Conte was sentenced to life without parole plus two consecutive 15-year sentences for using a firearm. The judge gave him a chance to speak after the sentence was read but he refused.
He has 30 days to appeal.
Trial begins in Conway double murder