An Izard County man has been sentenced to 20 years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections after being found guilty of attempted capital murder, a class Y felony and battery in the first degree, a class B felony, before Judge Tim Weaver in Izard County Circuit Court Nov. 17. 

The sentence for 34-year-old Matthew Garner stems from charges acquired in October of 2019 when at approximately 3 a.m., the Izard County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call from victim Kyle Cantrell who told authorities his home was on fire.

Cantrell was able to extinguish the flames prior to the arrival of the Melbourne Volunteer Fire Department and neither Cantrell nor the fire department reported the fire to law enforcement.

On Oct. 28 of 2019, just before 6 a.m. Cantrell called 911 to report he had been shot twice in his front yard as he was attempting to get into his vehicle. While on the phone, Cantrell was shot a third time.

When authorities arrived on scene, they found Cantrell shot and lying in his driveway. When asked who had shot him, Cantrell stated Matthew Garner or another former employee of the Sonic Cantrell managed were the most likely individuals.

During the investigation, it was found Cantrell had recently been promoted to manager and through the course of his duties had recently fired Garner and a second subject had quit over a dispute.

In speaking with the suspects, it was discovered the individual who had quit had taken a second job and was in contact with Cantrell.

Later on the day of the shooting, authorities attempted to locate Garner and found his vehicle at his mother’s residence at approximately 4:30 p.m.

Officers spent approximately 15 minutes knocking on the door in an attempt to get Garner to come and speak with officers.

A short time later, Garner’s mother arrived at the residence, entering the home and finding Garner lying on the couch near the front door.

Garner exited the residence and stated he had not heard law enforcement knocking or calling his name.

An interview was conducted, and Garner stated he was not fired from Sonic but knew he had been taken off the schedule because he’d missed several days of work.

He claimed he had been home watching videos and playing games on his computer at the time of the shooting and that the computer would prove he was home at the time.

Garner gave law enforcement consent to search his computer which showed there had been no human activity between the hours of 1 a.m. and 7 a.m. on the morning of the shooting.

Garner then gave consent to law enforcement to search his cellphone.

In speaking with Garner’s mother, she told authorities her son had borrowed her car the night of Oct. 27 and returned at approximately noon the day of the shooting.

Through the course of the investigation, it was found Garner’s last date of employment at Sonic was Oct. 8 and Cantrell had notified Garner of his employment had been terminated.

Cellphone records indicated Garner had traveled from his residence to the Cantrell residence the morning of the shooting and showed Garner to be at the Cantrell residence at the time of the shooting.

On Nov. 7, an investigator with the Izard County Sheriff’s Department traveled to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences to conduct an interview with Cantrell.

Cantrell again provided authorities with the same names of potential suspects but stated he did not believe one was involved because he had retained his friendship with the individual.

Cantrell stated he had fired Garner for routinely calling in sick and recalled the fire at his residence had occurred about eight days after firing Garner.

On the morning of the shooting, Cantrell had been shot twice in his stomach and while calling 911 was shot a third time from behind.

On Jan. 2, 2020 Garner was interviewed a second time and when confronted with evidence he had been at the Cantrell residence, Garner stated he was concerned when his phone was searched it would show he had driven past Cantrell’s residence.

Cantrell sustained serious injuries as a result of the shooting and had to undergo multiple surgeries, losing a kidney and a large portion of his intestines in the process.

Following court proceedings, Garner was sentenced to 20 years in prison with the possibility of parole in five years. 

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Lauren is a an award-winning journalist who decided after 10 years of newspaper experience to venture out. Hallmark Times was born.