Repeat felon sentenced to prison for illegal possession of a firearm

Andre Smalley, 33, was sentenced to eight years in federal prison with three years of supervision, after pleading guilty in May to a felon in possession of a gun charge. (Photo: PCSO)

A five-time convicted felon will be spending the next eight years in prison after being sentenced in federal court in Little Rock on Wednesday.

Andre Smalley, 33, was charged by a grand jury back in 2015 with one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. The charge relates to an April 2015 shooting at a Wright Avenue convenience store where security camera footage showed Smalley shooting a gun at two victims. Little Rock Police would later locate Smalley's vehicle and during a search of his vehicle discovered a Ruger 9mm handgun that matched the description of the gun used in the shooting.

“Andre Smalley is a dangerous, repeat offender who should not be free on the streets of Little Rock, and this sentence properly reflects the seriousness of his crime,” said Cody Hiland, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas.

“Prosecuting repeat offenders who terrorize our community by engaging in gun violence will be one of this office’s top priorities. Dangerous criminals who illegally possess and use firearms should know there will be a spot in a federal prison waiting for them.”

Smalley had faced several other charges, including the 2014 aggravated robbery of T.C. Edwards - an autistic rock musician and dishwasher at Pizza D'Action. Edwards was set to testify against Smalley in 2015, but was discovered shot to death in a Howard Street carport just a month before trial. Mike Poe, Edward's best friend and guardian, has maintained that Smalley was the one that murdered Edwards despite police still not being able to name a suspect in the case.

A small group of Edwards' friends, including Poe, were in federal court on Wednesday in the hopes of seeing justice for their friend, despite Smalley being sentenced for a separate crime. Poe had assisted the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in connecting the dots with Smalley's connection to the shooting at the Wright Avenue convenience store., helping to bring about the federal gun charge.

Poe was supposed to give a victim impact statement at Wednesday's sentencing, but Judge D.P. Marshall believed it was inappropriate to hear since most of the statement didn't relate to Smalley's gun charge - mostly relating to Smalley's reported taunting, threatening and robbery of Edwards. After the sentencing, Poe told KATV, while initially taken aback by Judge Marshall not wanting to hear his statement, he was happy the court delivered the sentence he and Edwards' friends wanted without it.

"He made the decision based on his own judgment and not relying on my statement which was absolutely fine for me," said Poe. "Especially considering that he gave an even harsher sentence than the prosecution asked for, I feel like we really couldn't have done better today."

Smalley is set to be sentenced on a battery charge in Pulaski County Circuit Court next Monday, related to the 2015 convenience store shooting. He also ended up pleading guilty to that charge.

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