A $1 million bond is keeping the man accused of killing Arkansas Tech student Nona Dirksmeyer in jail right now. A Pope County judge held a bond hearing for Gary Dunn, 28, on a capital murder charge this morning. Dunn didn't say much in court but his family did.
With cameras rolling and his parents watching Gary Dunn made his first court appearance, accused in the 2005 murder of Nona Dirksmeyer.
Dirksmeyer’s nude body was found beaten and stabbed to death in her apartment on December 15th, 2005. Her boyfriend, Kevin Jones was put on trial for her murder in July 2007 and found not guilty. Last Friday, police arrested Dunn without incident in Center Ridge for Dirksmeyer's killing.
"I know in my heart my son didn't do this and I stand behind him 100%," his mother Martha Dunn says.
The hearing was short, just to determine whether Dunn should be let out of jail on bond.
"Whether or not you are innocent or guilty will be decided once you get to circuit court," Pope County District Judge Don Bourne said. "Anything else you want to say or add before I set your bond Mr. Dunn?"
Dunn said nothing. The judge set his bond at $1,000,000.
Special Prosecutor Jack McQuary is believed to have DNA evidence linking Dunn to the crime scene where Dirksmeyer was killed. An arrest affidavit says a condom wrapper found near Dirksmeyer’s body had DNA from both her and Dunn. And it has been revealed nearly three years after the killing that Dunn lived in the same apartment complex as Dirksmeyer at the time of the killing.
None of those facts that seem to implicate his stepson change the feelings of Preston Chenoweth.
"It doesn't worry me because in my opinion if they had it they would have used it before,” Chenoweth says.
Chenoweth says his stepson is a quiet man and a good worker who assisted him on construction projects around the area. He says the last time he spoke to him was a few days before his arrest. Chenoweth says Dunn was optomistic about finding more consistent work, but explained few employers would hire him with a felony on his record.
Dunn has that felony conviction from a 2003 second degree battery assault on a female jogger at a Russellville park. He was sentenced to six years in prison and served two. He was on parole at the time Dirksmeyer was killed in 2005.
"I've never in the 53 years that I've been alive seen my son lay a hand on any woman," Dunn says.
She says now Russellville Police and the special prosecutor in the case are victimizing another family in their search for Nona's killer.
"I feel sorry for Kevin (Jones) for what he had to go through and I feel sorry for Nona's parents for what they are still going through,” Dunn says. “They need closure, they need answers. But my son didn't do this."
And his family says if it goes to trial they want it moved out of Pope County. The next court appearance for Gary Dunn is September 22nd at 9am. His family says most likely a public defender will handle his case unless a defense attorney wants to take it pro bono.