by Max Brantley
From Shiras' report:
His sentence will start Friday. District Judge Marianne McBeth ordered McKinney this morning to serve the jail time she suspended last year in a drunk-driving and marijuana-possession case.
She said the suspended jail time was normal in such cases, and revoking the suspension and making him do jail time also was normal when such a plea agreement was violated.
She said public officials had a duty not to breach the trust of the people who elected them, but she had tried to make sure the sentence didn’t treat him “any more punitively or more favorably” than other defendants.
McKinney was stopped for speeding between Eureka Springs and Berryville on March 23 of last year and was charged with misdemeanor drunk driving and possession of a small amount of marijuana.
His Carroll County sentence of nine days in jail for drunk driving and 30 days for marijuana possession was suspended, but the plea agreement said he would serve the jail time if he re-offended within a year.
He was arrested March 18 of this year on Interstate 540 between Springdale and Fayetteville on marijuana and drunk-driving charges. Though he was found with less than a gram of marijuana, a second marijuana offense is a felony.
But his lawyer, Beth Storey of Fayetteville, told Judge McBeth Tuesday that a plea agreement will be presented Friday in Washington County in which McKinney will plead guilty to that misdemeanor drunk-driving charge and enter drug court under Judge Mary Ann Gunn to deal with the marijuana offense.
McKinney and his lawyer drove away from court Tuesday morning before they could be asked, but it appeared that nothing in either of the two cases this week will keep him from continuing to serve as mayor.
McKinney, 56, has served as Berryville’s mayor since 1991.