[Nameplate] Fair ~ 91°F  
Feels like: 98°F
Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016

Charleston man is guilty on two counts of murder

Thursday, August 3, 2006

CHARLESTON -- Andre Clark, 43, was found guilty on two counts of second degree murder and one count of first degree assault today.

The decision was handed down from Judge Fred W. Copeland, circuit judge for New Madrid County's 34th judicial circuit. Copeland said he used the time since the trial ended on Tuesday "to reflect upon the evidence presented."

Copeland is now referring the case to probation and parole for sentencing assessment and set the date for pretrial motions at 2 p.m. Oct. 6. Clark is tentatively set for sentencing on Oct. 6 as well.

Clark was found guilty of beating his fiancee and her son to death. During the trial, the defense called only three witnesses while Mississippi County Prosecuting Attorney Darren Cann called 15 witnesses, according to Circuit Court Clerk Karen Turley.

Closing arguments by the prosecution and defense were made at about 2:15 p.m. Tuesday.

Originally scheduled for five days as a jury trial, court officials expected the trial to run for three days once it was changed to a bench trial, which is presented before a judge.

On Feb. 23, Clark waived his right for a jury trial in exchange for the state dropping three counts of armed criminal action and amending the charges of first degree murder to second degree murder, eliminating the possibility of the death penalty.

Following a four-month investigation, Clark was charged on Oct. 20, 2004, with the beating deaths of Lazan Tanette Balentine, 32, and her 4-year-old son, Kyri Savignon White-Balentine. The two were found dead on June 17, 2004, in their home at 802 South Grand St. in Charleston after apparently being beaten to death on June 16 with a blunt object.

A second son, Knighten Sabir Balentine, who was age 3 at the time, was also attacked and beaten at the home. While seriously injured, Knighten was treated at a St. Louis hospital and survived.

The first degree assault charge Clark was also tried on was for this beating.

Copeland commended spectators of the trial on their conduct saying that it was "one of the best galleries I've seen at a trial."

Copeland said it was not his normal procedure to discuss how he determined the results and would not comment any further.