Hodge Could Receive Hearing
A recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court concerning mandatory life sentencing for juveniles apparently will have implications relating to a 1995 triple murder in Rector.
The Supreme Court decision on Jan. 25 expanded a 2012 case, Miller vs. Alabama, which banned mandatory life sentences without parole for minors. The justices ruled 6-3 those incarcerated over the last half century should have a chance to be re-sentenced, in essence making the original ruling retroactive.
As of 2015, more than 2,000 inmates nationwide were given mandatory life sentences when convicted as juveniles.
Aaron Michael Hodge, incarcerated in the Arkansas Dept. of Corrections, is one of the cases approved for a sentencing appeal in April of last year.
Hodge was convicted of triple homicide in the 1995 murders of his mother Barbara Flick, stepfather David Flick and half-sister Andria Flick. The crime occurred at the Flicks' home on Oct. 8, 1995. Hodge drove around in his stepfather's truck, spent his money, used his credit cards and threw parties with friends in a garage apartment with the three dead in the nearby home for a week before suspicions began to surface.
He had told everyone the rest of the family had gone on vacation in Florida. Family and friends eventually called the police station expressing concern. Glenn Leach, then a detective for the Rector Police Department and now the chief of police, took notice. According to CCTD archives, Leach waited across the street for Hodge, who willingly went to the station with Leach and then admitted his family was dead inside the home. With a heavy heart Leach returned to the home, where he found all three murdered.
"The bad thing is they knew the kid was trouble," Leach said. "The family had been to the station, because they feared what he might do."
The family was well-known throughout the community. David owned an auto repair shop, Barbara was a nurse and Andria attended the local school, where a memorial in her name still remains. Hodge killed all three by shooting them in the head -- a single shot for the mother and half-sister, but three shots for the stepfather, which helped prosecution show anger and malice on Hodge's part. Hodge, 17 at the time, was sentenced to life without parole on Dec. 11, 1996.
"The only sentencing option at the time was life without parole," said Second District Dep. Pros. Atty. Mike Trail of Rector, who will be assisting in the anticipated appeal process. "Now the options are 10 to 40 years in prison or life, which now life includes without parole regardless."
"Hodge has already been convicted of the crime; the only question is the sentencing," Second District Pros. Atty. Scott Ellington said. He expects to see a different sort of representation in court this time, "as public defenders didn't use the same mitigation tactics they do now."
Whether or not Hodge will see court isn't entirely decided at this point. Six of the 56 state inmates that qualify for re-sentencing are in Ellington's district. He anticipates three of those cases will be settled outside of court. However, he does anticipate Hodge's case to reach court. At this time no date has been set.
Ellington said research on the re-sentencing has begun.